x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Pro League round-up: Ricardo Quaresma expected to make his Al Ahli debut

The spotlight will be on the Portuguese winger against Jazira tonight at Bin Zayed Stadium.

Ricardo Quaresma warms up during his his first practice at Rashid Stadium two weeks ago. Christopher Pike / The National
Ricardo Quaresma warms up during his his first practice at Rashid Stadium two weeks ago. Christopher Pike / The National

Al Jazira v Al Ahli

The spotlight tonight at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium will be on Ricardo Quaresma, the Portuguese international, who is set to make his Pro League debut for Al Ahli.

They play Al Jazira, the two clubs hot on the heels of Al Ain, the league's runaway leaders.

The former Porto, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea forward is expected to play a key role for his new club in the absence of Grafite, the Brazilian who is serving a six-match ban for elbowing the Al Dhafra defender Hassan Zahran in the face.

Ahmed Khalil, the young Emirati forward who was on target three times in his country's successful Gulf Cup victory, is expected to partner Quaresma in the attack.

Quaresma, 29, replaced Achille Emana, the Cameroonian forward in the mid-season transfer window, as Ahli look to raise the pace of a season that started with a stunning 6-3 win against Al Ain but has since had five draws and one defeat from their next 11 games.

Jazira, after a poor start to the campaign, have made excellent progress of late, winning 20 points from a possible 24 from their last eight league games.

"We return to the second half of the league after a long break but it is important we take this momentum forward," said Paulo Bonamigo, the Jazira coach.

They will be strengthened by the return of national team players Ali Mabkhout, Khamis Ismail, Abdulla Mousa, Ali Al Ameri, Ali Kasheif and Khaled Issa.

"We will try to play our strongest line-up," the coach said. "Apart from Khamis Ismail, who has a little niggle in the leg, all those who were in the UAE's successful Gulf Cup squad are available."

Al Shabab v Al Wahda

Al Wahda will be boosted for today’s trip to Al Shabab by the return of Saeed Al Kathiri, Hamdan Al Kamali and captain Ismail Matar after their stint with the UAE team at the Gulf Cup. Eric Mouloungui, the Gabon midfielder, and Dino Djulbic, the Australian defender, are both due to make their league debuts.

Kalba v Baniyas

Relegation-threatened Kalba begin the second half of their league campaign at home against Baniyas with new signings Junior Felicio Marques, the Brazilian midfielder, and Edward Sadomba, the Zimbabwean striker, set to make their respective Pro League bows.

Al Wasl v Al Nasr

Having picked up two points from the last four games, Al Nasr will have to make a strong start to the second half of the league to get their title hopes back on track. They can take heart from their last three wins in the Etisalat Cup though when they meet Al Wasl in a derby game.

apassela@thenational.ae