x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

New Al Wahda signing Eric Mouloungui has done his homework on Pro League

Gabon midfielder disagrees his move from Ligue 1 side Nice to Abu Dhabi club is a step down.

Eric Mouloungui, left, in action for Gabon in the African Cup of Nations, is ready for a change. Thomas Mukoya / Reuters
Eric Mouloungui, left, in action for Gabon in the African Cup of Nations, is ready for a change. Thomas Mukoya / Reuters

ABU DHABI // New signing Eric Mouloungui has revealed that he turned down offers from Russia and France to join Al Wahda in the Pro League.

The 28-year-old Gabon international signed a two year deal with the Abu Dhabi club last night on a free transfer from Nice, the French Ligue 1 side.

And he said that money was not an issue in reaching his decision.

"I was in Abu Dhabi for talks last month and I was impressed by the quality of life here," he said.

"I was very comfortable and enjoyed my short stay, and it didn't take me long to decide where I would be heading.

"I had some offers from several clubs in Qatar, Russia and France, but I had already made up my mind to join Wahda."

The midfielder said the move to the UAE means he can spend more quality time with his wife and 16-month son Eric Daniel. "It has been a very hectic seven years in France for me," he said. "Abu Dhabi is a small city and I don't take long for me to get back to my family."

Before his first visit here Mouloungui had a talk with Mamadou Bagayoko, who played for Wahda in 2006/2007 and was a teammate at Strasbourg and Nice. "He gave me all the information I wanted and recommended I travel to Abu Dhabi to see it myself," he said.

"I have also studied the Pro League and watched some of the recent matches including the Asian Champions League games of Al Jazira and Baniyas. I think they are at a good level.

"There are also some big names like Asamoah Gyan and that sounds good enough for me to think the Pro League has quality. So I don't think I am going to lose my level playing in the UAE."

Mouloungui will return to Gabon tomorrow night and will be back for pre-season training once a schedule has been decided.

Abdullah Salem, the Wahda team manager, said the plan will be drawn up shortly after Sunday's final round of games in the Pro League.

"The plan would be to start training before Ramadan [around July 20] and have our summer camp in Germany or Austria at the end of the fasting month," the former UAE and Wahda defender said.

"Of course we are trying to get our next campaign on a better note than the one we are just about to conclude."

Wahda were inactive this season and lost several senior players. They did not make any changes on their foreign players or have a summer camp abroad. "It was normal to either sell or release some players by a club," Salem said.

"The foreign players we had contracts until end of this season and we didn't have the summer camp abroad due to time constraints. Anyway, all this is behind us. Now we are focused on a better season ahead and we are already preparing for it."

Branko Ivankovic, the former Iran and Saudi club Al Ettifaq coach, takes charge of the team this summer, while Anas Bani Yaseen, the Jordan defender, is set to sign after completing his contract at Al Qadsia of Kuwait.

apassela@thenational.ae

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