x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Scocco among key figures on the way out from UAE

Change remains constant in local football as several personnel see contracts terminated. Sports round-up audio

Ignacio Scocco, right, has surprised his club by expressing his desire to leave.
Ignacio Scocco, right, has surprised his club by expressing his desire to leave.

The close season carousel swung into top gear yesterday as Pro League clubs began a summer shake-up of their coaching and playing personnel.

Foreign players definitely leaving the league include Al Jazira's Lucas Neill and Al Ain's Ignacio Scocco and Al Nasr's Luca Toni is expected to join them.

On the managerial side Caio Junior will not be given a contract extension at Jazira, the second coaching casualty of the week after Gabriel Calderon at Baniyas.

The biggest shock is Scocco's loan move back to Newell's Old Boys in his native Argentina.

"We were surprised when he said he wanted to leave," Mohammed Obaid Hamad, the Al Ain team manager, said of the player signed for €2.8 million (Dh12.7m) from AEK Athens last summer and paid €2m a season.

"We tried to convince him by saying he was a member of the champion team and we would like to have him with us for the next season, but I think he was home sick and wanted to get back.

"There is no point trying to hold him back when he is not happy at Al Ain. We will find a suitable replacement for him."

The Pro League champions also have to deal with the issue of Asamoah Gyan who has yet to decide his future after completing his one-year loan move from English Premier League club Sunderland and it is not clear if Yasser Al Qahtani, the Saudi Arabia forward, who was on a one-year loan from Al Hilal, will return for another season.

However, Mirel Radoi, the Romanian midfielder, has said he will complete his two-year contract at Al Ain.

Hamad Al Suwaidi, a member of the Jazira's board of directors, confirmed the contracts of Caio Junior and Neill, the Australia international centre-back, will not be renewed.

He said the board members will meet shortly to discuss the new coach and signings for the next season but the club has wasted no time in giving Juma Abdulla, the Emirati defender, a three-year contract extension and bringing in Hamad Al Hammadi, a 23-year-old defender from Al Dhafra, on a three-year deal.

They are also bringing back Ali Salem Al Ameri, who spent last season on loan at Al Nasr, following Neill's departure. Walter Zenga, the Nasr coach, had been keen to sign the defender for next season, something that will not be the case with Toni, the Italian World Cup winner who arrived amid much fanfare in January.

Although the striker has a contract until the end of December a club source said: "The technical committee, following consultations with the coach Walter Zenga, has decided Toni will not continue with the Nasr team next season. An official announcement about Toni and the other foreign players will be made in the coming days."

Nasr are also likely to release the defender Bader Yaqoot and the midfielder Ali Abbas to make place for new players to strengthen the squad.

Meanwhile, Abdul Wahab Abdul Kader has been handed a contract extension to lead Ajman next season. Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the club President, said the team had reaped the fruits of his hard work.

"He has bonded the team as a competitive outfit and technically raised their level to one that can compete against any teams in the league," Sheikh Rashid said. "He is also regarded and respected as a father figure to all the players and has earned everyone's respect from his honest hard work and the overall good results this season."

The Iraqi coach, who has spent more than three decades in the country, said the accolades belonged to his team.

"It is the players who have to do the job on the pitch and credit should go to them," he said. "As a coach, I try to win the trust of the players and the rest becomes easy."

sports@thenational.ae