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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

UAE's FA 'will not hesitate' to support Sebastian Tagliabue's naturalisation

Argentine could be set to represent adopted country following change in regulations made possible by Presidential decree

Sebastian Tagliabue has helped Al Wahda to five trophies: one President’s Cup, two League Cup crowns and two Super Cup titles. Pawan Singh / The National
Sebastian Tagliabue has helped Al Wahda to five trophies: one President’s Cup, two League Cup crowns and two Super Cup titles. Pawan Singh / The National

The Football Association says it “will not hesitate” to support the naturalisation of Al Wahda striker Sebastian Tagliabue.

The Argentine, UAE football’s record foreign goal-scorer, could be set to represent his adopted country following a change in regulations made possible by a Presidential decree issued by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed in November.

Tagliabue, who has scored 151 goals for Wahda since joining in 2013, has completed five years in the Emirates and therefore qualifies under Fifa’s residency rules.

The forward said last week that it would be “my pleasure and an honour” to play for the UAE. That could in theory make him eligible for a place in the national team squad for January’s Asian Cup, which takes place in the country for only the second time.

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Read more:

John McAuley: Goals and leadership make Sebastian Tagliabue a potential asset to UAE

Amith Passela: Al Wahda's Yahya Al Ghassani determined to make history with the UAE

'They feel they belong here': Judo and hockey federations welcome Presidential decree

UAE FA: Decree to allow expats to represent sports 'wise and very welcome decision'

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Al Wahda striker Sebastian Tagliabue has confirmed he is interested in representing the UAE now he is eligible for them. Antonie Robertson / The National
Al Wahda striker Sebastian Tagliabue has confirmed he is interested in representing the UAE now he is eligible for them. Antonie Robertson / The National

Asked about Tagliabue’s situation at Tuesday night’s National Teams and Technical Affairs Committee meeting, FA general secretary Mohammed Hazzam Al Dhaheri said: “The UAE Football Association is not able to grant citizenship, but we do not hesitate to support the team regarding any player that meets the conditions and criteria and is chosen by the team’s technical staff.”

An instant hit following his 2013 transfer from Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab, Tagliabue has twice been named the Arabian Gulf League’s Best Foreign Player, in 2016 and 2018.

In that time the 33-year-old player has helped the Abu Dhabi club to five trophies: one President’s Cup, two League Cup crowns and two Super Cup titles.