x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Coelho and Grafite committed to returning Al Ahli back to the top

Al Ahli's two new Brazilian recruits are determined to help turn things around at the Sheikh Rashid Stadium after two disappointing seasons.

Fabio Cannavaro, second left, and Ahmed Khalifa Hammad, second right, stand alongside Al Ahli's two new signings, Jakson Avelino Coelho and Grafite, at their unveiling at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Fabio Cannavaro, second left, and Ahmed Khalifa Hammad, second right, stand alongside Al Ahli's two new signings, Jakson Avelino Coelho and Grafite, at their unveiling at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

DUBAI // Al Ahli's two new Brazilian recruits are determined to help turn things around at the club and bring the good times back to the Sheikh Rashid Stadium after two disappointing seasons.

Grafite and Jakson Avelino Coelho, two of Al Ahli's three high-profile new signings, were unveiled yesterday at the Burj Khalifa in the presence of Ivan Hasek, the new coach, and Fabio Cannavaro, the player turned club ambassador.

"We are here to help Ahli get much better results than last year," said Grafite, who has committed himself for the next two years to Ahli. "That is why we have been brought here."

"What happened in the last season, we have to forget," said Coelho, who has signed a three-year deal. " This is a new season and we have some good players coming to the club. Me and Grafite, we will try to do our best and make everybody happy."

Ahli have struggled in the league since winning the title in 2009. Hasek was the coach when they were crowned champions and he has been brought back to resurrect their fortunes.

The club have made some notable captures during the summer, luring Grafite, who was playing in the German Bundesliga with Wolfsburg, and convincing Coelho to move from Trabzonspor in Turkey. Ahli have also Jimenez, a Chile international, on a four-year contract.

"We bring these players because of their quality," Hasek said. "Grafite showed his quality in the Bundesliga by topping the scoring charts. He is top class in front of the goal and works hard for the team as well.

"[Coelho] was one of the best players in the Turkish league and took his club to the second position. He is a left-footed player and we needed someone of his profile. He can play different roles - as second striker, as attacking midfielder or on the left side."

Hasek played a big part in luring Grafite, who was top-scorer in the Bundesliga with 28 goals when Wolfsburg won the league in 2009 and was named the German Footballer of the Year.

They know each other from the 2006/07 season, when Grafite was with Le Mans in France and Hasek was managing Saint-Etienne.

"I know the coach from France and I know how good he is," said Grafite, 32, who has four Brazil caps. "So I listened to the proposal and I am very happy to be here. I am grateful to the club for believing in me and I hope I can do well, like I did in France and Germany."

Coelho, 25, admits he was reluctant when he first heard about the Ahli offer, but made his decision after speaking to other people.

"I did not know the club, I did not know what was happening," he said. "I spoke to different people and they told me about the club and the team. I liked what I heard and after that I accepted. I know it is a very big club and I have to try my best. I hope everybody will be happy with my football."

 

arizvi@thenational.ae

 

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