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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Fabio De Lima determined to fire Al Wasl to Arabian Gulf League title

Brazilian forward has been a huge success for the Dubai club, scoring 96 goals in 125 top-flight appearances

Fabio De Lima poses for pictures with an Al Wasl fan. Reem Mohammed / The National
Fabio De Lima poses for pictures with an Al Wasl fan. Reem Mohammed / The National

Al Wasl forward Fabio De Lima has made it his mission to win a first title with the club this season after coming so close during the 2017/18 campaign.

The Brazilian, one of the most talented players in the Arabian Gulf League, has been with the Dubai side since 2014, scoring 96 goals in 125 top-flight appearances.

Last season, Wasl threatened to seal a first UAE championship in more than a decade when they led the standings at the halfway stage. However, they struggled after the winter break and eventually finished third.

The seven-time UAE champions came agonisingly close in both cup competitions, too, but were beaten in March’s League Cup final and then the President’s Cup showpiece two months later.

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Wasl kick off the 2018/19 campaign on Thursday at home to Dibba, with Argentine Gustavo Quinteros at the helm following Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s decision to leave at the conclusion of last season.

De Lima, who is working his way back to full fitness following minor knee surgery, is determined to finally deliver some silverware to the Zabeel Stadium.

“This season we want to take the championship,” he said on Tuesday at the New Balance store in City Centre Mirdif, venue for the official launch of Wasl’s new away kit. “Last season we shoot and hit the post twice, but Inshallah, Gold helps us to take a title. We have made a big preparation in pre-season and we want to start with a win in the first game.”

De Lima, 24, said Wasl must make sure not to drop points against the division’s lower-ranked teams - last season, they drew against Hatta and Ajman and lost away to Dibba - but he insisted he has not set any specific personal targets for the upcoming campaign. Last time out, he found the net 19 times in the league.

“When the trophy comes then the individual award comes together,” said De Lima, who expects to feature as a substitute against Dibba. “I’ll try to score more goals than last season, but the most important is to take one championship for this club because I’m here four years but have not won anything. That’s what I want to try for this season.”

De Lima’s future was again subject to much speculation this summer. Although he signed a contract extension in December through to 2022, the former Atletico Goianiense attacking midfielder was linked to a number of clubs inside the country and abroad. Most prominent were rumours of a money-spinning offer from Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr.

However, De Lima said: “All the time good offers have come, but I am very happy to stay here. I won’t stay here my whole life in Al Wasl. One time I will go to another club; I don’t know, maybe come back one day to Brazil.

“But I am very happy to be here. My mentality now is to take one title with Al Wasl and to give my best this season.”

Updated: August 28, 2018 10:41 PM

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