x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Mariano Donda given two-year extension at Al Wasl

Argentine rewarded for impressive first season under Maradona.

Mariano Donda will sign a new contract with Al Wasl.
Mariano Donda will sign a new contract with Al Wasl.

DUBAI // Mariano Donda is set to sign a two-year deal with Al Wasl after an impressive debut season for Diego Maradona's team.

Donda, who arrived in Dubai on a one-year deal from the Argentine club Godoy Cruz last year, made an immediate impact, scoring a hat-trick in his first official match – an Etisalat Cup game against Al Jazira. He continued to impress through the season and the 30-year-old may be the only Wasl foreign player to retain his place for next season.

After a disappointing season when Wasl failed to win any titles and finished eighth in the Pro League, the club's new board of directors are determined to turn things around.

"We will not rest till we put Wasl back among the leading clubs of the country … till we put together a team capable of defending the club's proud history and fight for titles," said Dr Mohammed Ahmed bin Fahad, the chairman of the Al Wasl Club and the Al Wasl Football Company.

"We will be holding a number of meetings in the coming days to discuss several issues, especially the plans for the team's pre-season preparations. We also need to start working on signing new players and renewing contracts. There are a number of other administrative and technical issues that need to be discussed."

The club's football committee, headed by Suwaidan Al Naboodah, has been given the task of choosing the local and foreign players for the next season, in coordination with Maradona.

Al Nasr are also in the hunt for two foreign players, having retained Mark Bresciano and Leo Lima for the next season.

Their coach, Walter Zenga, has just returned from a short vacation and, according to club sources, the Italian legend is still confident of convincing the striker Fabrizio Miccoli to leave Palermo for the Maktoum Stadium.

Miccoli is still Zenga's first choice to replace Luca Toni, but the source concedes Nasr's chances of bringing the 32-year-old to Dubai are slim, especially after "extremely positive" renewal talks between his agent the Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini.

If the Miccoli deal fails to materialise, Nasr could opt for Giuseppe Mascara, who is currently at the Italian Serie A club Novara. The Mascara, 32, who can play both as a striker and a wide forward, is Zenga's second choice.

Nasr are also waiting to hear back from Amara Diane after making a formal offer to the Ivory Coast striker. Diane, according to club sources, is holding out for a better package, but Nasr have made it clear they cannot meet his demands.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Qassim has signed a two-year deal with Al Dhafra, picking the Western Region club over Ajman and Sharjah. The 30-year-old defender has turned out for Al Ahli since 2005, but was out of contract at the end of last season.

Dhafra will be facing-off against Sharjah, Al Shaab and Emirates in September's relegation play-offs, which will decide the two teams that will play in the expanded 14-team Pro League next season.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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