x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Wahda confirm Lyon interest in Al Kamali

The UAE and Al Wahda defender is the subject of interest from the French club.

Hamdan Al Kamali is a target for Lyon.
Hamdan Al Kamali is a target for Lyon.

ABU DHABI // Al Wahda will not block the move of Hamdan Al Kamali, the UAE international centre-back, to Lyon if the French side "make us a serious offer", a club official said yesterday.

Remi Garde, the new coach of the European Champions League-bound side, recently confirmed the club's interest in the UAE Olympic team captain who would become the first Emirati to play professionally in Europe.

The Ligue 1 team want to take the 22 year old on trial with a view to making the move permanent but Wahda are unreceptive to the idea.

"We have had a meeting with a Lyon representative, but their offer is not serious," Khaled Awadh, the deputy chief executive of the Abu Dhabi club, said. "They will take him for three or four months and try him and see if he's OK, and then they will take him on their own terms. We would prefer to keep him, under those circumstances. We would reconsider if they made a serious offer."

Al Kamali has attracted attention because of his athleticism, leadership and youth and demonstrated his class in the 7-2 win over Lebanon on Sunday night.

"Al Kamali is talented, well built and has a strong foot in executing the free kicks over and above his qualities as a leader on the pitch," Garde told the Football Association website.

He conceded that the young Emirati would encounter a period of adjustment, if he were to move to Europe.

"Al Kamali may face some difficulties and there's no doubt about that," Garde said. "The acclimatisation with the European style of play comes on top of the challenges which the player will be facing, but I'm confident that Al Kamali would be able to overcome all these barriers."

Srecko Katanec, the coach of the national team, is convinced that several of his players, including Al Kamali, could succeed outside the country.

"I am 100 per cent sure that he could play immediately for some of the best clubs in Europe," Katanec said in May. "I see the stoppers in England and he is better than many of them."

He also believes that the country's best players could only get better by playing for top European clubs, and that would a boon to the aspirations of the national team.

Yousuf Jaber, the UAE and Baniyas defender, expressed confidence that Al Kamali could succeed at Lyon, and Amer Abdulrahman, the national side's playmaker, said a move would represent a welcome precedent.

"I hope Al Kamali's move to play for Lyon will not be hindered," Abdulrahman told the FA website. "It's the hope of all UAE players to benefit from playing abroad and help the national teams with the experiences which they will gain from playing in a truly professional competition."

In the past, UAE clubs have been reluctant to allow top Emiratis to leave the country, often signing them to long contracts and paying them so well that they would face cuts in salary if they left the country.

Awadh said Wahda oppose the terms Lyon are offering, not the idea of letting him go.

"It would be good for the club and for the national team to have a player from the UAE playing for a Champions League club. But Lyon must make a better offer."

poberjuerge@thenational.ae


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