x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Simon Feindouno in rude health and raring to go

Released by Dubai because of a heart defect last season, the Guinean midfielder aims to reward Ajman's trust in him with some towering performances.

Simon Feindouno was released by Dubai after a medical examination revealed the Guinean had enlarged muscles around his heart and was deemed too much of a risk to carry on playing football. Jake Badger for The National
Simon Feindouno was released by Dubai after a medical examination revealed the Guinean had enlarged muscles around his heart and was deemed too much of a risk to carry on playing football. Jake Badger for The National

DUBAI // Seven months after his professional life was thrown into disarray, Simon Feindouno is back preparing for a new season, emboldened by renewed optimism.

The Guinea international, released by Dubai club in January when they claimed he had a heart defect, signed a one-year contract with Ajman earlier this summer, entrusted as the man to add the thrust to coach Abdulwahab Abdulqadir's midfield.

A starring role in the rebranded Arabian Gulf League seemed a long way off at the beginning of the year. Feindouno's fine first half to the 2012/13 campaign crumbled after Dubai officials said a medical examination had highlighted that the muscles around his heart were enlarged.

He was deemed too much of a risk; his football career severely threatened.

Steadfastly denying the accuracy of the test results, Feindouno sought to prove he was physically able to continue playing, and was retested first in France and then at the Aspire Academy in Qatar. Both gave the all-clear, and convinced Ajman to offer him a reprieve.

The Etisalat Cup holders want Feindouno to provide a cutting edge to their promising side and, with the new UAE top-flight term less than a month away, he is intent on repaying that faith with his third UAE top-flight club, after Kalba and Dubai.

"I'm overjoyed to be back playing as I've been waiting for a long time," Feindouno said. "I enjoy football so much because football is everything for me. It's my life and so I aim to give everything for this club, as Ajman were the first team to give their hand to help me.

"It means even more because the club have shown they trust me. What Dubai said about me, they didn't believe, so today I'm just happy this team had faith in me. For this, I'll give my best to help the club achieve things."

If Ajman are to replicate last season's success - in May they lifted their first trophy in 29 years - Feindouno's contribution likely will be key. Despite spending six months away from the game, the player, who recently turned 28, has maintained his fitness with a steady training programme and says he feels as strong as ever.

He promises to fit in well at Ajman, where he represents one quarter of a talented overseas cast. It is spearheaded by Boris Kabi, the prolific Ivorian striker, who provides the end product to the craft of Driss Fettouhi, Morocco's skilful winger from whom much is expected in his first full season in the UAE.

Mohammed Reza Khalatbari, the Iran international forward, completes the quartet, having signed from Sepahan earlier this summer.

With the experienced Abdulqadir at the helm, Ajman are certain they can improve on last season's 10th-place finish in the league, while once again challenging for the domestic cups.

"We have a good team, we just need to work during our friendly games to put everything into practice," Feindouno said. "But I'm confident this year we'll do a good job. I believe so much in my teammates, that we have very good players here. We will give our all to have a great season."

 

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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