x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hopes rise after Abel Braga hire, and Al Dhafra sign Kamel Chafni

Arabian Gulf League round-up: Al Ain exude confidence they have got right man, and Moroccan ticks off the full list at Dhafra.

Abel Braga has been at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National
Abel Braga has been at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National

Al Ain have postponed the beginning of their pre-season by 24 hours as the UAE champions put the finishing touches on a contract with Abel Braga, their new coach.

The Brazilian was in Abu Dhabi on Monday to sign a two-year deal with the Garden City club and will officially commence his tenure when he meets players and staff at the Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium on Tuesday night.

Al Ain had originally planned to embark on their preparations for the 2013/14 campaign on Monday, however, the club's board wanted to have Braga, 60, in place before the team reconvened. A press conference has been called for 9.30pm tonight.

Braga's appointment has already been well received by Al Ain's supporters.

There is a real belief inside the club, too, that they have recruited the right man to continue their recent success, as Braga's commendable CV includes a Pro League and President's Cup double with Al Jazira in 2011.

In his two previous seasons at Jazira, Braga guided the capital side to successive runner-up league finishes and an Etisalat Cup crown.

Also, Braga adopted at Jazira the same attacking formation that saw Al Ain thrive under Cosmin Olaroiu, the coach now in charge of rivals Al Ahli, while the former Fluminense manager enjoyed a particularly fruitful relationship at Jazira with Ibrahim Diaky, the midfielder who joined the champions earlier this summer.

Morocco’s Chafni completes the foreign four at Al Dhafra

Al Dhafra have completed their foreign contingent for the 2013/14 campaign with the signing of Kamel Chafni.

The Moroccan midfielder, 31, agreed to a one-year deal with the Western Region club and joins from Brest, the French side relegated from last season’s Ligue 1.

Chafni, who previously represented Auxerre for five years, is Dhafra’s third overseas addition this summer, following the arrival of Emmanuel Clottey, the Ghanaian striker, and Bilal Najjarine, the Lebanese defender who signed from Dibba Al Fujairah.

Makhete Diop, Dhafra’s 2012/13 top scorer with 22 goals in 30 matches, has committed to the club for another two seasons.

Elsewhere, Khamis Esmail, 23, signed a new five-year contract with Al Jazira.

The Emirati midfielder is considered one of the side’s most important players, having last season become a regular starter.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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