x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Jazira look to Brazilian after Sobis setback

The capital club look for a big-name Brazilian replacement for Rafael Sobis, who will miss half of the Pro League season.

Rafael Sobis, in white, will miss the first half of the new Pro League season due to a knee ligament injury he picked up in May.
Rafael Sobis, in white, will miss the first half of the new Pro League season due to a knee ligament injury he picked up in May.

ABU DHABI // A big name Brazilian striker is being targeted by Al Jazira as they try to boost their forward options following the news that Rafael Sobis is injured and out of the first half of the forthcoming Pro League season. The Abu Dhabi side, who finished as runners-up last season, had already lost last season's top scorer Fernando Baiano to Al Wahda, but were dealt a further blow when it was confirmed that Sobis will be sidelined as a consequence of the knee ligament injury that he picked up in May.

But Jazira have confirmed that they are after new blood to compensate for their depleted attacking options. "We are going for someone really big and his name will shock everyone," said an anonymous Jazira official. "We can't reveal any details until the deal is finalised. But if it comes through, I can promise it will be a very, very big surprise. "We will be without Sobis at the start of the new season and obviously his absence will be felt. And with Baiano leaving us we are looking at a player with not only a big reputation but play bigger role in the team."

Sobis became the most high profile signing in the UAE game's first professional season when he moved from the Spanish club Real Betis to Al Jazira on a five-year contract for ?10 million (Dh51.2m). Now the Abu Dhabi club wants to snag an even bigger catch than Sobis, who will miss the start of the new season because of the knee ligament injury he suffered in their Pro League match against Al Ain in May.

Sobis, 23, was ruled out for more than six months and is not expected to join the team's training until November. The new season is set to kick-off in September and Jazira fear the Brazilian international may be ruled out for the first half of the season. Jazira have also lost last season's prolific scorer Baiano, 30, to city rivals Al Wahda, who snapped up the sturdily built Brazilian striker on a new three-year contract after Jazira had refused to heed to the player's demand.

Baiano, who was on loan from the Spanish club Real Murcia last season, demanded a new three-year contract for ?9m from Jazira, but the club offered him a two-year term for ?5m. Sobis and Baiano formed a lethal partnership for Jazira and the latter topped the scoring charts with 35 goals in all competitions. Now that prolific liaison has been broken the Jazira will have to start the new season with an all new attacking partnership.

The speedy Ivorian forward Tony (Antoine Nantcho), who spent much of his time last season as a reserve, will spearhead Jazira's attack in the start of the season. Tony spent two seasons with Wahda before crossing over to Jazira on a new three-year deal last season. Jazira renewed the contract of the Brazilian defender Marcio Rozario for another year, and added a couple of local signings, the defender Juma Abdulla from Al Ain and the midfielder Tariq Ahmed from Sharjah.

They are yet to decide on two overseas signing including one of Asian origin. Abel Braga's squad will regroup at the club on July 25 and four days later head for their three-week summer camp in Austria and Germany. apassela@thenational.ae