Caio Junior questions Ribeiro’s decision to join Al Ahli over Manchester United

Ahmed Rizvi looks back at another week in the Arabian Gulf League and discusses the biggest talking points.

Everton Ribeiro at his unveiling last week. The Brazilian midfielder enjoyed a perfect debut by coming off the bench to score. Satish Kumar / The National
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Ahmed Rizvi reflects on the biggest talking points from the Arabian Gulf League before looking ahead to the upcoming action.

UAE’s Asian Cup heroes need rest

Ideally, the league should have restarted this week. At least, that is the opinion of the chief of the Football Association’s medical committee, Dr Mustafa Al Hashimi.

According to Al Hashimi, any time an athlete travels across any of the earth’s five oceans, he should be given a break of at least three days — and preferably five — because that is the time needed to adjust the biological clock and overcome fatigue.

The Arabian Gulf League organisers did not take that fact into account when scheduling Week 14 of the competition, and most of the UAE’s national team players were on the pitch only a bare minimum 72 hours after their 15-hour return flight from the Asian Cup in Australia.


Thankfully, the majority of them came through their matches without any serious damage.

Unfortunately for Al Ain, Omar Abdulrahman was not so lucky.

According to the club’s doctor, the UAE star has strained a muscle “of the third degree” following his 60-minute appearance against Al Shabab on Wednesday and he has been ruled out of action for three weeks.

Abdulrahman insisted he had made the decision to play and there was no pressure from coach Zlatko Dalic but said he had felt “overwhelmed” on the pitch “because of the time difference between the UAE and Australia, the long return trip back” after a stay of 39 days and “the trouble in getting proper sleep” after a seven-hour time change.

Other national team players had similar things to say after playing for their clubs on Wednesday night.

It is to be hoped the AGL will show more concern for these invaluable national assets next time around.

Sharjah need reinforcements

Six national team players were on Al Ahli’s start list for the match against Sharjah and clearly looked ragged, but the champions still clinched the match 2-0 thanks to the brilliance of newcomers Oussama Assaidi and Everton Ribeiro.

The loss set alarm bells ringing at Sharjah.

The “Kings” are 12th in the table, and worried fans have urged management to improve the side before the close of the winter transfer window.

Sharjah definitely need reinforcements, specifically in attack, where they lacked last season, as well.

They have scored only 16 goals in 14 matches, and eight of those goals came in the wins over the two teams below them in the rankings — Kalba (4-2) and Ajman (4-0).

They have failed to score in six of their AGL matches. It is a surprise the club management have not made a move for a striker in the winter. They need to act fast because time is running out.

Hasek turning it around

While Sharjah’s fortunes have been plunging in recent times, Fujairah have been able to overcome their difficult start and are slowly digging their way out of the relegation zone.

The former Al Ahli manager Ivan Hasek, who replaced Abdulwahab Abdulqadir in December, has made a good start, winning two of his three league matches in charge, including a victory at Emirates last week.

Leaders Al Jazira are wary of their Week 15 opponents, who returned home with a 2-2 draw from the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in September.

“Their win over Emirates will be a great boost for them and an incentive to play better at home against us,” said Eric Gerets, the Jazira coach.

“They have won two games on the trot now, and so we need to be careful because this is going to be a very difficult game.”

Ribeiro surprises Caio Junior

It could just be a part of the mind games before the interesting Al Mamzar derby between champions Ahli and Al Shabab, but Caio Junior has questioned Brazilian star Everton Ribeiro’s decision to sign for Ahli when he could have been playing for Manchester United.

“Bringing Everton Ribeiro here is an excellent step by Ahli, and the presence of such a player in this league serves us all in UAE football,” the Shabab coach, who is also a Brazilian, said on the eve of the derby.

“But I am really surprised by Ribeiro’s decision to play in the UAE, when he had the option to play in Italy or England.

“In fact, the [Brazilian] newspaper O Globo has raised similar questions.

“The Brazilian media would really like to understand the mystery of Ribeiro’s transmission to the Arabian Gulf League.”

Ribeiro has already said Ahli’s offer was the only one to meet the “expectations” of all the parties involved, including his Brazilian club Cruzeiro, and he will probably let his feet do the talking at Shabab on Sunday night.

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