x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

UAE veteran Jumaa looks for one last shot at glory with Dhafra

The veteran midfielder is ready for one final challenge before calling time on his illustrious career after joining Al Dhafra's bid to win Pro League promotion.

Abdulsalam Jumaa, left, won the President's Cup with Al Jazira last season before signing up for Al Dhafra's promotion bid.
Abdulsalam Jumaa, left, won the President's Cup with Al Jazira last season before signing up for Al Dhafra's promotion bid.

The veteran midfielder Abdulsalam Jumaa is ready for one final challenge before he calls time on his illustrious career.

Jumaa has decided to prolong his football life by another year to help Al Dhafra's bid to win promotion to the Pro League, who went one step closer to achieving that after last night's 1-0 win over Sharjah.

Jumaa, 35, is the oldest of three siblings and he and his brothers Abdulraheem and Ahmed have all represented the UAE.

"I had decided to quit from the game after my contract with Al Jazira ended at the end of last season. However, some of my former teammates at Al Wahda and officials from Al Dhafra coaxed me to change my mind," Jumaa said.

"As football is my first love, I decided to join Dhafra for another season, not more. I wanted to be involved in the sport as long as possible as a player and later in some other capacity.

"Now that I have decided to stay on for another season, I want to play to my best potential.

"Dhafra have prepared well with a lot of new signings and I feel they not only can qualify from the four-team play-off but remain in the Pro League. I hope I can contribute to achieve the club's objectives."

Dhafra have recruited 14 new Emirati players including five on loan from Al Ain. They have also signed Amara Diane, the former Paris Saint-German and Al Nasr striker.

Jumaa spent 19 years at Wahda before crossing over to Jazira in 2007. Ahmed, the youngest of the three brothers, followed him a year later and they were joined by Abdulraheem in 2011.

While Ahmed is staying at Jazira, the two older brothers will have an important role to play at Dhafra.

"Abdulsalam and Abdulraheem are key signings for us and we expect them to play a big part in our bid to gain promotion," Musallam Al Ameri, the chairman of the club's board of directors, said. "These two players bring in loads of experience and they still command respect from any opposition."

Abdulsalam won three league titles and a President's Cup at Wahda, and a league and two President's Cup medals with Jazira. But this is the first time he has played for a club striving to get into the top flight.

Abdulsalam says this will be his biggest challenge before hanging up his boots.

"This would be the first time I will be playing for a club whose objective is not to win the league. We may quietly fancy our chances in the two cup competitions but the main goal would be to get promotion and remain in the Pro League.

"I always wanted to go out with my head up and I suppose this is a bigger challenge for me to see Dhafra gain promotion and remain in the country's top-flight competition.

"They have done all the right things like recruiting new players and preparing them under an experienced coach [Djemal Hadziabdic]. Now we need to perform on the pitch to reach our goals."

 

apassela@thenational.ae

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