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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Everton Ribeiro justifies move to champions-elect Al Ahli: ‘When I came, I wanted to win titles’

Brazilian playmaker believes helping Ahli to a seventh league title proves he made the right decision in coming to the UAE last year.
Everton Ribeiro, right, set up Ahmed Khalil's goal to secure a 1-0 win against Al Ain. Hasan Alraesi / Al Ittihad
Everton Ribeiro, right, set up Ahmed Khalil's goal to secure a 1-0 win against Al Ain. Hasan Alraesi / Al Ittihad

DUBAI // Everton Ribeiro says winning the Arabian Gulf League with Al Ahli would go some way to justifying his move to the club.

The 27-year-old Brazilian playmaker was one of the most sought-after players in his homeland when he joined the Dubai side in February last year from Cruzeiro for a reported €9 million (Dh37m) fee. He signed a four-year deal.

See more from John McAuley:

Ahmed Khalil delivers a captain’s performance as Al Ahli take a step closer to AGL title

Al Ain ‘must win’ at Al Ahli to remain UAE champions, demands coach Zlatko Dalic

At the time, Ribeiro’s decision to come to the UAE was questioned by some, including the Brazilian media and even Al Shabab coach Caio Junior. Ribeiro had just lifted Cruzeiro to the Brazilian championship and was subsequently voted the league’s best player for a second successive season. He reportedly had offers from several high-profile European clubs, such as Manchester United, AC Milan and Monaco.

However, Ribeiro chose Ahli and has become one of the Arabian Gulf League’s key men, with six assists and nine goals this season to help the club top the table. On Thursday, he created Ahmed Khalil’s winner in the title-defining clash with second-placed Al Ain, a 1-0 victory that extended Ahli’s advantage at the summit to six points with three rounds remaining.

Ribeiro, who also starred in last year’s run to the Asian Champions League final, says clinching the UAE championship would prove he made the right decision in moving to Ahli.

“When I came here, I wanted to win titles,” said the playmaker, who was mobbed in celebration by Ahli fans outside the Rashid Stadium late Thursday night. “Results like this, this is why I came to Al Ahli. I congratulate all the players, and the supporters for coming here for this big game. I am very happy.

“My team played very well. Now we have even more chance to take the league - this makes me happy.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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