x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Fabio Cannavaro lauded by Al Ahli chairman

Abdullah al Naboodah praises the impact of the Italian defender as 'dramatic' and believes the Dubai will have a new stadium by 2014.

Fabio Cannavaro, right, has impressed at Al Ahli. Pawan Singh / The National
Fabio Cannavaro, right, has impressed at Al Ahli. Pawan Singh / The National

Abdullah al Naboodah, the chairman of the Pro League club Al Ahli, yesterday said that he is satisfied with the progress of the side, impressed by Fabio Cannavaro's professionalism and anticipates that the Dubai team will have a new stadium by 2014.

Al Naboodah also said that the loan of Aristide Bance, the forward from Burkino Faso, to the Qatari club Umm Salal was completed yesterday, and that Al Ahli now are actively pursuing a defence-minded midfielder to sign during the transfer period as their third foreign player.

"We believe our attack is strong enough," he said after an appearance at the Yas Links Golf Club. "It is our defence which needs to improve, especially in midfield."

Bance had been among the leading scorers in the Etisalat Cup, with four goals, but the striker had only two goals in seven league matches. He was suspended for three games after verbally abusing Saleh Basheer of Al Jazira during a game in September.

Al Naboodah said that third place in the Pro League standings, on 17 points with a match in hand, was an acceptable performance, but added that he thought the side "could have been between the 22 to 25 numbers".

He said Al Jazira, the league leaders on 29 points, were not impossible to catch, particularly if Ahli can defeat Al Wahda when their postponed game is made up.

The chairman said that he has been pleased with Cannavaro, 37, the central defender from Italy and a former World Player of the Year who could be paid as much as Dh22.5 million this season.

"I think Fabio Cannavaro's impact on the team has been dramatic," al Naboodah said. "He is one of the most professional players I have ever seen, both on and off the pitch. In three or four games this season I really believe he should have been the man of the match. But when the rest of the team around you are not strong, it is hard to stand out."

He said Ahli may soon take advantage of new Pro League rules which allow clubs to sign two additional foreigners as long as they are under the age of 21 and have not played for their national side. "We are giving trials to several players from Africa right now," he said. "We should know in a week if we want to sign any of them."

He said the club have begun to work on the design of a new stadium to replace the current venue, which has seats for 9,700.

The stadium would be built on the site of the current stadium and seat from 18,000 to 22,000 spectators, and it should be finished in time for the club to be playing in it for the 2014/15 season.