The pre-season buzz at UAE's football clubs
ABU DHABI // Three friendly tournaments at Al Ain, Baniyas and Al Jazira's Mohammed bin Zayed stadium from next week will help the Abu Dhabi clubs prepare for the new professional league season.
Al Ain kick off the proceedings with a competition involving Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia, Al Qadsiya of Kuwait and Al Rafa of Bahrain. The tournament begins on Saturday and runs until August 19.
Baniyas have invited Al Nasr of Saudi Arabia, Club Sportif Sfaxien of Tunisia and Al Jaish of Syria to play matches between August 16 and 23.
Jazira will host Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia, Al Rayyan of Qatar and Al Nahda of Oman from August 20 to 26.
Al Ain have made early plans following a dismal performance last season where they avoided relegation to finish 10th in the league and did not feature well in either the President's Cup or the Etisalat Cup.
They seem to have learnt from their mistake of last season, when they were late in signing their foreign players, thus ending up signing only two instead of the quota of three before the deadline closed.
This time around they have wasted no time. The club hired the Romanian Cosmin Olaroiu as the coach, and have signed two foreign players, Ignacio Scocco of Argentina and Mirel Radoi of Romania. They hope to complete their foreign signings in the coming weeks.
Helal Saeed has returned to the club after a two-year spell with Jazira. The UAE international midfielder began his career with Al Ain but moved to Jazira, where he won the league and the President's Cup last season.
"I had a couple of enjoyable seasons at Jazira but I am glad to be back at Al Ain, where I feel more at home," said Saeed. "The club has big plans and I want to contribute in those ambitious plans."
Meanwhile, Jazira have still to decide on their new coach after Alejandro Sabella, who signed for them in June, agreed to take charge of the Argentina national instead.
The lack of a new coach has not dimmed the enthusiasm of the players, who are busy in training for the club's Ramadan Cup tournament which has a winner's purse of Dh 400,000 and half that sum to the runner-up.
All three competitions will be played in a round-robin league.
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Published: August 8, 2011 04:00 AM