Fabio De Lima and Caio Canedo 'want more' after Al Wasl's UAE league title win

Dubai side crowned Adnoc Pro League champions for first time in 17 years

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Al Wasl duo Fabio De Lima and Caio Canedo have dedicated the team’s first UAE league title in 17 years to everyone connected to the club, but they called for it to spark a prolonged period of success.

The Dubai side were confirmed as Adnoc Pro League champions on Sunday night, when they defeated second-placed Shabab Al Ahli 3-0 at a packed Zabeel Stadium to claim the crown with two rounds to spare.

Having earlier this month clinched the President’s Cup, Wasl emulated their 2006/07 side in completing the double – the last time the club had won either trophy. The title win lifted Wasl to second on the all-time list for top-flight trophies, level with Shabab Al Ahli on eight. Al Ain, crowned Asian champions on Saturday, have 14.

De Lima has been integral to Wasl’s title success, his goal against Shabab Al Ahli making it 16 for the campaign. He sits behind only Al Wahda’s Omar Khribin (17 goals) in the race for the Golden Boot.

Having spent almost a decade at Wasl since joining in the summer of 2014, De Lima is the club’s all-time leading scorer in the league, with 164 goals.

Speaking after the title was sealed, the Brazil-born UAE international said: “I’m waiting, the fans wait, the people who love Al Wasl wait a long time. We deserve this moment. You see the party the fans do before the match, outside the pitch, outside the club. I never see this before in my life.

“The two trophies are for our fans, for our [club president] Sheikh Ahmed [bin Rashid Al Maktoum], our chairman Ahmad Mohammad bin Shafar. They make a good season, they make a good job, they support us until now. We are very happy with these two trophies – we make a great season.

“I do my best, we do our best one more time, and in the end, God helps us with two trophies.”

De Lima, 30, said he had been playing the latter part of the season with a knee injury. Throughout his time with Wasl, the forward has been linked with a number of clubs, both domestically and regionally.

However, he said on Saturday: “You will stay where you feel good. I feel good the whole time here with Al Wasl. The last four, five years, I receive a lot of offers but in the end when I go home and think about life … here in the club there are a lot of people I love. Great people.

“I feel comfortable to stay with Al Wasl and I feel like I finish my career here at Al Wasl. I know I don’t have much more – two, three years maximum – but thanks God, I gave some things to this club.

“If I go back to my country or my home tomorrow after one year, I’m very happy. I gave everything, I did my best.”

Like De Lima, Canedo joined Wasl in 2014 and, after spending then almost four years at Al Ain, returned to the club last summer.

“God is beautiful, Allah is beautiful,” he said. “Look how he draws everything. Same situation as 2007, we can repeat now 17 years later.

“I’m just so happy – the first year coming back to the club, I’m blessed with two titles. I’m just happy that I could help a little bit throughout the season. I just want to celebrate.

“I want to dedicate this to the fans, you see how much this means, they’ve been very supportive. It’s like we say, we have the championship here [stuck in their throat], so we wanted to shout we were still waiting.

“And I told Fabio, ‘My God, the season doesn’t finish. We win, Shabab Al Ahli win, Shabab Al Ahli win, we win. These guys are so annoying, in a respectful way. They have a great team. But thank God everything happened towards us.”

Canedo, 33, was also born in Brazil, but as with De Lima, has represented the UAE since the beginning of 2020. Having now won a second UAE title – he helped Al Ain to the 2021/22 championship – the striker is urging his teammates to ensure this season’s success is not a one-off.

“We have to plan for the future,” Canedo said. “Next year we want more. Because the expectation is going to be very high; all the eyes will be on Al Wasl.

“So we need to be ready, our team needs to be more together, compact, as a true family. Because many difficult competitions are coming.”

Echoing Canedo’s sentiments, De Lima said: “Next season, there will be a lot of pressure because we should continue what we do in this season. I have good plans with the club, with the national team – we have the [Arabian] Gulf Cup [in December], we have to qualify for the [2026 Fifa] World Cup.

“I try to prepare well, stay good physical and mentally, so I can do my best for the club and for the country.”

Updated: May 28, 2024, 12:44 PM