x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Wahda's Hamdan Al Kamali gets his wish for move to Lyon

The 22-year-old defender is in France to undergo a medical and sign a half-season loan-deal as he seeks to become the first Emirati to play in Europe.

Hamdan Al Kamali has been allowed to play in Ligue 1 by the club till June 30 with the option for an extension.
Hamdan Al Kamali has been allowed to play in Ligue 1 by the club till June 30 with the option for an extension.

ABU DHABI // The Al Wahda coach said he was relieved the chairman finally sanctioned Hamdan Al Kamali's protracted move to Lyon yesterday as the uncertainty over the defender's future had started to affect performances.

The 22 year old left for France yesterday to undergo a medical and then sign a half-season loan-deal with Lyon, the Ligue 1 club, after Sheikh Diab bin Zayed, the chairman, met a represenative of the French club in the capital and agreed to allow the national team centre-back to leave.

Al Kamali has been the subject of interest from the French club since the summer but Wahda rebuffed their advances, claiming Lyon were "not serious" and had not meet their valuation of the player.

Club officials refused to divulge the financial aspect of the move, but confirmed Al Kamali has signed until June 30 with the option of an extension for a further season.

"It is a very good decision for Sheikh Diab to release him," Josef Hickersberger said. "With the negotiations not going well, I think Hamdan couldn't concentrate on his game. He was outstanding last season but unfortunately he has not been the same.

"He was not mentally prepared nor focused on what he was doing. Hamdan has not been at his best in recent months. He has not trained regularly because of injuries and also he has had this problem in getting this move to Lyon out of his mind.

"I am glad that all these matters are out his way and now he can concentrate on his game."

The move ends a difficult period for Al Kamali who was dropped from the Olympic team squad and was subsequently banned by the Football Association for the Pro League match against Al Shabab.

He will become the first Emirati player to ply his trade in Europe. "It is a dream for Hamdan and for the national team as well as for the club, because it now gives the confidence for the other players to follow on Hamdan's path," Hickersberger said.

Haider Ali, the Wahda captain, said the team would miss Al Kamali, who called his teammates yesterday to say farewell, but was happy his wish has been granted. "He was determined to play abroad and he has got his opportunity," Ali said. "It has been a difficult period for him in the recent weeks. He couldn't concentrate on his football until he got this out of his mind.

"He is very excited and we all pray and wish for him to do well. He is young and ambitious, and he always talked about being known internationally. I hope he will keep the UAE flag flying high and return a better player for both, the club and the national team."

Al Kamali led the national team to the Under 19 Asian Cup, the last eight of the U20 World Cup and a silver medal in the Asian Games.

"We are all happy for Hamdan as it fulfils his wish to play in Europe," Khaled Awadh, the deputy chief executive officer, said. "We believe he will gain from his experience and on his return continue to contribute for both, the club and the national teams."