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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Madjid Bougherra to bring talents to Arabian Gulf League with two-year contract at Fujairah

Fujairah have brought their pursuit of Madjid Bougherra to a successful close, signing the Algeria captain for two years.
Algeria's defender and captain Madjid Bougherra is on his way to the UAE to finalise a deal with newly promoted Fujairah of the Arabian Gulf League. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Algeria's defender and captain Madjid Bougherra is on his way to the UAE to finalise a deal with newly promoted Fujairah of the Arabian Gulf League. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Fujairah have brought their pursuit of Madjid Bougherra to a successful close, signing the Algeria captain for two years.

Bougherra, 31, had several offers from Europe and the United States, including relegated English Premier League club Cardiff City, Turkey’s Besiktas and Major League Soccer club Philadelphia Union, but Fujairah convinced him to move to the Arabian Gulf League.

He played in Algeria’s opening two games against Belgium and South Korea at the World Cup finals in June, and then came on as a substitute in their 2-1 loss to Germany, after extra time, in the second round.

“We are really proud to welcome Bougherra to Fujairah,” said Sultan Al Shara, an official of the ambitious promoted club, as he announced the deal.

“He was the captain of Algeria team at the recent World Cup and helped them achieve honourable results.

“He also helped Lekhwiya win the league title in 2011/12, so his experience will be a great asset for Fujairah and his presence will be a safety valve in our defence.”

Al Shara said Bougherra, who spent three seasons at Scottish club Rangers, will join the team’s training “immediately” and leave with the team for their pre-season camp in Italy today.

Bougherra, a free agent since parting with Qatari club Lekhwiya after three seasons, becomes the third foreign player on Fujairah’s books after Lebanon’s Hassan Maatouk and Boubacar Sanogo.

Fujairah are expected to complete their quartet of foreign players with the signing of another Algeria international, former Benfica and Udinese midfielder Hassan Yebda, in the coming days.

That means the club have given up on their chase of Chilean star Jorge Valdivia, who arrived in the UAE in the middle of last month amid much fanfare but left the country without signing a deal after two days.

Little has been seen or heard of him since, with the player vacationing in Miami according to media reports. He was expected to return to his Brazilian club Palmeiras yesterday to explain what had happened at Fujairah to cause the move to fall through.

Elsewhere, Mahdi Ali, the UAE senior team coach, visited the Al Ain training pre-season camp in Austria on Sunday to have a look at the possible candidates for the national team camp, which will be held from August 15 to September 7 in Austria.

Mahdi Ali will visit other AGL clubs at their training camps in Europe in the coming week before announcing the names of the players who will be attending the first of the preparatory camps for November’s Gulf Cup in Saudi Arabia and the Asian Cup in ­January.

Seven AGL teams will be training in Germany (Al Nasr, Al Wahda, Al Wasl, Ajman, Emirates, Fujairah, Sharjah), four in Italy (Al Ahli, Nasr, Fujairah, Ittihad Kalba), two each in Austria (Al Ain, Baniyas) and the Netherlands (Al Dhafra, Al Shabab), and one in Switzerland (Al Jazira) as they continue their preparations for the new season, which begins next month.

The UAE will play three friendly matches during their camp in Austria – against Norway on August 27, Lithuania on September 3 and Paraguay on September 7.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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