Sebastian Tagliabue hopes Arabian Gulf League season gets completed

Striker says he would like to stay at Al Wahda beyond this season, when his contract ends

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, July 23, 2019.  Sebastian Tagliabue is one of the stars of the Arabian Gulf League, its all-time leading foreign goalscorer and second in the all-time charts. 
Victor Besa/The National
Section:  SP
Reporter:  John McAuley
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Al Wahda striker Sebastian Tagliabue says he wants to see the 2019/20 Arabian Gulf League season completed, but only if it is deemed safe enough to do so.

The UAE top flight has been postponed since March 15, initially until April 15, to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. As of yet, no new date for resumption has been set.

With seven rounds to play, Shabab Al Ahli top the table, six points ahead of second-placed Al Ain. Wahda sit fourth, eight points off the summit, but still have to face the top two.

Last week, the Football Association rejected rumours a decision had been taken to cancel the season, telling The National that all options remained on the table. The FA said a final call, to be made by the UAE Pro League, would be taken only after direction from the relevant authorities.

With much throughout the league still to be decided, Tagliabue hopes football can return perhaps in May, thus allowing the competition to be concluded before the summer months.

Wahda have Asian Champions League commitments as well, but the continental tournament was last month suspended two rounds into its group stages. Like the Arabian Gulf League, no date for resumption has been announced.

“For me, it’s very important to finish the season, for two reasons,” Tagliabue said. “One: many teams are playing for something – for relegation, to be champion, to qualify for the next AFC Champions League. Also, it’s only seven games; in one month you can finish if you play only the league.

“And two: if we stop now, when will we come back? In July? We will have to be two months in camp, outside the country, because here it’s impossible to train.

"So it's better, for example, say end of April, to start to play games again. We finish beginning of June and then have one month's holiday and come back middle of July.

“But this is only my opinion. If everything is getting worse with the coronavirus, then yes, of course we have to stop. The authorities have the final decision. If we have to stop from now because the situation doesn’t allow us to continue training or playing, we have to stop. This is not a doubt; this is serious. We will stop and nobody will question it. Other things are much more important.

“Thankfully, we are in a safe country. We will see what happens in the future.”

Whether Tagliabue remains at Wahda beyond this season – should it be completed – remains to be seen. The Argentine, who now qualifies to play for the UAE, is coming to the end of the two-year contract he signed in 2018, but is eager to continue at the club he has represented since moving to the UAE almost seven years ago.

During that time, Tagliabue has struck 152 times in the league to move within 13 goals of the all-time top-flight record, held by Fahad Khamis.

Asked about his future, he said: “Still I’m not sure. We are talking with Al Wahda, but nothing's decided until now. Of course, my options and first priority is to stay in Al Wahda. But if we don’t agree with Al Wahda, or they don’t show their interest, maybe soon I will have to look for another option.

“I hope my time in Al Wahda is not finished. But at the same time, if it is time to change, OK, we have to say goodbye. Me to Al Wahda and Al Wahda to me, and then looking for the next step. This is the life of a footballer.”