AGL preview: Balasz Dzsudzsak, Mbark Boussoufa and new imports to watch
The Arabian Gulf League 2016/17 season kicks off on Friday night with three matches across the Emirates. Ahead of the new UAE domestic season, John McAuley takes a look at the new foreign imports to watch.
Caio (Al Ain)
The club’s only foreign acquisition this summer, the Brazil-born winger, 22, was recruited from Japan’s Kashima Antlers to add a threat on the flanks. Was J-League’s rookie of year for the 2014/15 season, and provides a goal threat from out wide. Endeared himself to Al Ain fans by scoring the winner in this week’s Asian Champions League quarter-final.
Balazs Dzsudzsak (Al Wahda)
Starred for Hungary at this summer’s Euro 2016, the international captain has the talent to shine further this season. The 29-year-old midfielder, who joined from Turkey’s Bursaspor, can operate on either flank and is a set-piece specialist. Came to Wahda after the club’s failed attempt to sign Brazilian Tiago Alves. An exciting signing.
Gelmin Rivas (Sharjah)
Needing a replacement for Al Nasr-bound Wanderley, Sharjah surprised many by taking the prolific Venezuelan from Al Ittihad. The striker, 27, was the second highest scorer in the Saudi Arabian top flight last season, registering 19 goals in 25 matches. Adds real power and cutting edge to his new club’s frontline.
Mbark Boussoufa (Al Jazira)
A regular standout in Belgium, the Moroccan playmaker, 32, was voted the Belgian player of the year three times during five years across Gent and Anderlecht — where he also twice lifted the league title. Disappointing spell at Lokomotiv Moscow followed, but has already impressed at Jazira. Provides goals and assists, can play wide or as a No 10.
Helder Barbosa (Al Wasl)
Signed from AEK Athens, the versatile attacking midfielder is expected to help lift Wasl into the top four. Barbosa, 29, spent two seasons in Greece, scoring 15 goals in 68 appearances. A Portugal native, he began his career with Porto, but spent most of his time there on loan. Reignited his career at Braga.
Abdelaziz Barrada (Al Nasr)
Having performed admirably at Al Jazira during the 2013/14 season, the Moroccan midfielder’s return to the UAE was highly anticipated. Barrada, 27, endured a frustrating intervening period at Marseille, but his 10 goals in 22 AGL matches last time out underline his playmaking abilities. Has started slowly for Nasr in Asian Champions League — improving his fitness is key.
Ruud Boymans (Al Shabab)
Needing a prolific striker, Shabab manager Fred Rutten settled on a fellow Dutchman with an encouraging track record. Boymans, 27, proved his quality by scoring 27 goals in 36 matches to propel Willem II to the 2013/14 Dutch second-tier title. Joins from Utrecht, where injury limited him to 28 league appearances in two seasons. Still managed 19 goals.
Published: September 15, 2016 04:00 AM