Arabian Gulf League 2014/15 team guides: Fujairah
The Arabian Gulf League’s new boys were intent on announcing their arrival.
Back in July, soon after confirming their return to the UAE top flight for the first time in seven years, Fujairah provided a fresh landscape with a substantial jolt: Jorge Valdivia was on board.
The playmaker, who once dazzled at Al Ain, who starred in Chile’s opening match at the Brazil World Cup, had agreed to help steer the east coast club’s second assault on the country’s premier football championship.
Little Fujairah had bagged the little “Magician”.
Understandably, the club heralded the capture. “It will put Fujairah on the map,” said Sharief Al Awadhi, the vice chairman.
That it did. The problem, though, was that Valdivia never happened.
From pictures released of the midfielder in Fujairah’s colours, to a cancelled media briefing, to confusion concerning his whereabouts; ultimately Valdivia would not be the face of the club’s new era. The deal was dead. Fujairah had to look elsewhere.
An embarrassing episode required serious surgery, but the club quickly set about dressing wounds. In came Madjid Bougherra and Hassan Yebda, two members of Algeria’s successful World Cup campaign. Both have experience and the talent to flourish in new surroundings.
They will be allied with Boubacar Sanogo, who Fujairah hope will recapture the form he once displayed at Al Ain, and Hassan Maatouk, last season’s catalyst to promotion.
Yet, past performances count for nothing as Fujairah embark on their most arduous challenge.
They received another shock this week. Dzemal Hadziabdic, the Bosnian coach, left the club thirteen days before the opening round of matches.
However, an unfortunate situation had been rectified by a swift and shrew appointment. Abdulwahab Abdulqadir, the sage author of an unlikely success story at Ajman, will take a little time to get his feet under the table, but he has long since dined in exalted company. Crucially, he knows the league.
Fujairah’s summer has been eventful, although they seem eventually to have got it right.
Much emphasis will be placed on their foreign contingent – rightly so – but they require substantial help from a support cast of largely emergent Emiratis. While the club have displayed a thirst for the limelight, for now, consolidation should trump ambition.
Having previously represented Ajman and Al Shaab, the Lebanese winger is well-versed in attempting to keep teams in the division. He excelled last season, scoring 18 goals to help secure promotion, but will need to replicate that form against stronger opposition. Pacey, with the skills to beat a man, Maatouk has the ability to unlock a tight defence. Although mercurial, can be a game-changer.
Hugely impressive during three years at Al Ain where he scored the goals that helped the Garden City club lift two league titles and twice reach the Asian Champions League final. That was almost a decade ago, though, and Sanogo has since plied his trade, for the most part, in Germany. The Ivorian striker is robust enough to succeed at Fujairah and has impressed during pre-season.
As the club’s standout summer signing, the Algerian captain will be the most influential member of the squad. Has vast experience gleaned from years at Glasgow Rangers and his national team, and should not take time to settle given he played the past few seasons in Qatar. Vocal and a commanding presence in defence, Bougherra’s leadership qualities convinced Fujairah to recruit him.
A teammate of Bougherra’s at the Brazil World Cup, the Algerian boasts a fine CV. Has previously represented several top European sides including Benfica, Napoli and Udinese. Can be employed as playmaker but should feature deeper in midfield, where he has a fine passing range. Will take the role of dictating Fujairah’s tempo and brings much-needed experience to the league’s new boys.
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Updated: September 3, 2014 04:00 AM