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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Life begins for players at new UAE side Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club

Pre-season set to start at new entity, the result of a shock merger in May between Al Ahli, Al Shabab and Dubai Club.

Makhete Diop is one of the former Al Ahli players to have joined the merger club of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club. Pawan Singh / The National
Makhete Diop is one of the former Al Ahli players to have joined the merger club of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club. Pawan Singh / The National

A new era in UAE football gets under way in earnest on Thursday when Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club gather for pre-season for the first time.

Provisions for the new entity, the result of a merger in May between Al Ahli, Al Shabab and Dubai club, have been in place since the announcement two months ago, but the coaching staff and players will meet for training at the Rashid Stadium to begin preparations for the new campaign. The club are to fly out to the Netherlands early next week for a training camp.

Cosmin Olaroiu, the Romanian who guided Ahli to two Arabian Gulf League crowns in the past four seasons, will lead the team. A provisional squad was decided last week, comprising primarily former Ahli and Shabab players, and is headlined by foreigners Makhete Diop and Henrique Luvannor.

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Moussa Sow, the most expensive foreign import in UAE football history, is included for the moment. The Senegalese forward, 31, spent last season on loan at Turkey’s Fenerbahce and favours a permanent move there. Meanwhile, UAE striker Ahmed Khalil has left for champions Al Jazira, while Everton Ribeiro returned to his native Brazil with Flamengo.

The merger, ordered by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, came as a shock in May, and was followed swiftly by another – this time with Sharjah and Al Shaab joining forces to become Sharjah Cultural Club.

Both new clubs will compete in the 2017/18 Arabian Gulf League season, which kicks off on September 16. The Arabian Gulf Cup begins in full the previous week, with the Super Cup between Al Jazira and Al Wahda slated for September 15.

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