x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Survival is name of the game for Pro League promoted clubs

Ajman and Emirates will look to copy the example of Baniyas and avoid relegation.

The Pro League's two promoted clubs will be aiming to follow the example of Baniyas in establishing themselves as a top-flight force.

The Abu Dhabi team were promoted after the 2008/09 season and finished fourth in 2009/10 and second last term.

Ajman and Emirates are the new boys this season, and they will be hoping to stay for a while. Ajman were up two seasons before being relegated in 2010, and Emirates have been the true yo-yo team: down in 2008, up in 2009, down in 2010, up in 2011.

Judging by their summer recruitment and early season form in the Etisalat Cup, Ajman appear to have the best chance of emulating Baniyas.

They are unbeaten in four Etisalat Cup games and Ibrahima Toure, their Senegalese striker, has impressed in topping the scoring charts with six goals.

"We have had a good start yet it is still very early," said Abdul Ahab Abdul Kader, the Ajman coach. "If we are to do well, which I am confident of, we need to play consistently well throughout the season.

"The club management has invested well in the squad and with some exciting new signings. It is now a matter of continuing with the same kind of performances through the season."

Toure, 25, spearheads Ajman's attack with their Asian player Hassan Maatouk, the Lebanese midfielder who scored both goals for his country in the 2-2 draw with Kuwait in the 2014 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Olivier Tia, the Ivory Coast forward, and Karim Kerkar, the French-born Algerian international, who moved from Emirates, complete Ajman's foreign quota.

Emirates, on the other hand, have been weakened by the loss of Kerkar and Nabil Daoudi, the Moroccan forward, who joined Dubai.

They were part of the Emirates team who, as a second tier club, impressed in the Asian Champions League last season, finishing third in their group and beating former champions Al Shabab, from Saudi Arabia, along the way.

Ghazi Ghrairi, the club's Tunisian coach acknowledged losing Kerkar was a blow: "He was our playmaker and controlled from the middle. It was his choice to leave and I can only wish him well.

"Our objective is to remain in the Pro League. We have prepared well and will do our best."

 

apassela@thenational.ae