Jazira hope new era is on way
DUBAI // Ali Khasif, the Al Jazira goalkeeper, is confident their Etisalat Cup triumph will be the start of a new era at the club, who have won only a couple of trophies since they were founded in 1974. Jazira, who came second in the race for the league title for the third consecutive season, had previously only ever won the UAE Federation Cup and the Gulf Club Champions Cup, both in 2007. Neither tournament is considered a major prize.
Since then, the club have finished second in the league three times. They missed out by three points to Al Shabab in 2008, Al Ahli pipped them by a single point in 2009 and they finished seven points behind Al Wahda this year despite losing just one game all season. During the same period, they had a semi-final and quarter-final appearance in the President's Cup, and one first-round exit. After the heartbreak of the past three seasons, Khasif was thrilled to finally get a winners' medal around his neck after the 2-0 win over Ajman in the Etisalat Cup final on Friday night.
"We are really happy to win this trophy," he said. "We have been unlucky not to win the league in the past three seasons, and we have not won the President's Cup either. But we have broken the jinx now and we are hoping this will be the start of a new era in which we will win a lot more trophies. "So we are happy beyond words and I want to thank and congratulate Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, coach Abel Braga and all our fans for their support and belief."
Khasif, however, will have little time to celebrate this victory as he and four of his teammates - Khalid al Sabeel, Salem Masoud, Sultan Bargash and Subait Khater - have to leave for Austria straight away to join the UAE national team at their off-season training camp. The young goalkeeper, 21, who is gradually progressing towards becoming the No 1 in Srecko Katanec's national team, is not complaining.
"When we win and take a trophy, no problem," he said. "If we don't have any big parties, I am still happy and will leave for Austria in a positive mood. If we had lost, it would have been very difficult for me. I would have no desire to go." Elsewhere, Al Shabab have inked a deal with Brazilian striker Julio Cesar do Nascimento, 31, who was playing for Al Ahli in the Qatar Stars League last season.
Al Nasr have confirmed a two-year deal with Leo Lima, the 28-year-old attacking midfielder, who is a former Brazil Under 17 international and has featured for some of the top clubs such as Vasco da Gama, Flamengo, Palmeiras and Sao Paulo in the Brazilian league. Baniyas are rumoured to be closing in on a deal with Portsmouth, relegated from the English Premier League this season, for their Nigeria striker John Utaka.
Published: May 23, 2010 04:00 AM