Al Jazira may not be playing in the Club World Cup on their home pitch at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, but tonight, one of their players will be.
Sobis pleased to be back in capital with Internacional
ABU DHABI // Al Jazira may not be playing in the Club World Cup on their home pitch at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, but tonight, one of their players will be.
Rafael Sobis, who is on loan from the Abu Dhabi club, is set to take the stage with his native Brazilian club Internacional.
And his intentions are clear. "We want to win this game," he said.
Jazira signed Sobis from Real Betis, the Primera Liga club from Spain, for a then record Dh65 million ahead of the 2008/09 season.
That sum was surpassed by Ricardo Oliveira, who Jazira signed for Dh72.5m the following year.
But the expensively assembled partnership was unable to deliver either the Pro League title or a passage to the Club World Cup as Jazira finished runners-up in the domestic competition for a third consecutive time last season.
Sobis established a fantastic partnership with Fernando Baiano, who scored 35 goals in all competitions for Jazira, in his first season.
But that association was broken when Baiano turned down a new two-year deal worth Dh24m.
Instead the player wanted a three-year, Dh44.2m deal which Jazira refused to offer him. He moved to cross-city rivals Al Wahda, with whom he won the Pro League last season and the right to play in the Club World Cup on home soil.
He has scored twice so far in the tournament against Hekari United, the Oceania champions from Papua New Guinea, in a 3-0 win, and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, the Asian champions from South Korea, in a 4-1 defeat.
Sobis, meanwhile, suffered a knee ligament injury in the latter part of his first year with Jazira and did not return until the second half of last season.
He was not the same player on his return and did not enjoy the same successful partnership with Oliveira as he had enjoyed with Baiano.
This summer, Jazira sent him on loan to Internacional, his former club, to free up space to bring in a different foreign player. He is a product of the Brazilian club's youth system and made his first team debut in 2004. He signed for Real Betis two years later.
Appearing at a press conference last night at Al Jazira's stadium along with Celso Roth, the coach, Sobis looked to be benefitting from the change of scenery but was pleased to be back in the UAE.
"I am very happy to be back and meet my friends," Sobis said. "Jazira was my home six months ago."
He said that he hoped to draw on his experience of his time in the capital to help his new teammates adapt to the pitch conditions and the environment.
Sobis, who has been capped eight times by his national team, is on an intensive training schedule independent of the rest of the first team.
"I feel good at the moment but I won't know if I am perfect. I have done everything that I have been asked to do during training. I know how important this first game is for us and the thoughts are very clear.
"We want to win this first game. We believe in our jobs. This team has quality but in football there is also lot of surprises.
"The football at this level is equal and we have to be ready to face any opposition."