Al Wasl’s Helder Barbosa praises manager and teammates for smooth transition to UAE football

“It’s hard, there’s a lot of different things here,” the Portuguese midfielder said, following his side's 4-1 AGL triumph over Al Dhafra on Saturday. “I’m trying to learn quickly, and a lot of my teammates have helped me in these first days."
Helder Barbosa of Al Wasl and Adullah Ali Alnaqbi of Al Dhfra in action during the Arabia Gulf League match at Zabeel Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Dubai,. Tom Dulat / Getty Images
Helder Barbosa of Al Wasl and Adullah Ali Alnaqbi of Al Dhfra in action during the Arabia Gulf League match at Zabeel Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Dubai,. Tom Dulat / Getty Images

DUBAI // Helder Barbosa has promised Al Wasl supporters there is much more to come from him after crediting his new teammates with helping smooth his transition to UAE football.

The versatile Portuguese midfielder joined the Dubai side last month from AEK Athens, signing a two-year deal, and has featured in their first four matches of the season. In that time, Wasl have won twice in the Arabian Gulf Cup, while Saturday’s 4-1 victory against Al Dhafra in the Arabian Gulf League got their new campaign up and running after last week’s opening defeat to Al Jazira.

See also:

• John McAuley: Al Wasl put four past Al Dhafra to earn Rodolfo Arruabarrena first AGL victory

• 2016/17 AGL preview: Balasz Dzsudzsak, Mbark Boussoufa and new imports to watch

• John McAuley: Al Wasl sign Portuguese winger Helder Barbosa on two-year deal from AEK Athens

Barbosa, who spent the past two seasons in Greece, was particularly impressive at the Zabeel Stadium against Dhafra, although he insists he is still getting to grips with life at a new club and under a new manager in Rodolfo Arruabarrena, also a summer recruit.

However, Barbosa thanked his manager and colleagues for him settling so quickly, especially Wasl’s Brazilian trio, Fabio De Lima, Caio and Ronaldo Mendes, who all speak his native Portuguese.​

“It’s hard, there’s a lot of different things here,” Barbosa said. “I’m trying to learn quickly, and a lot of my teammates have helped me in these first days. So, little by little, the people can see some of my qualities. I’m sure they will see much, much more in the next games.

“Of course, in the first days it’s amazing for me that some teammates speak the same language. It’s a big help, but like I told you, everybody here has helped me get through these moments and in the next games I will be better for sure.”

Barbosa, 29, said he did not anticipate that the level of competition among the UAE top-tier clubs would be so strong. Wasl were largely outplayed in their 2016/17 league opener by Jazira at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium last week, losing 3-1, but showed real resolve to bounce back with victory against Dhafra, where they had to come from behind to get the points.

“It has surprised me, because there is a lot of quality here,” Barbosa said. “When you come to Dubai maybe you don’t think the league has this quality. The teams play very, very well, with a lot of intensity. But OK, that’s hard for us but it’s also good for us to learn. We’ll improve in the next games.”​

Asked about coping with the stifling Dubai heat during his first few weeks in the emirate, Barbosa joked: “I didn’t expect this. It’s too much. In the first days I came I thought ‘what is this? I can’t handle this in the game’. But slowly I will settle into the rhythm and I will be able to help my team a lot.”

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Published: September 25, 2016 04:00 AM

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