As the Arabian Gulf League kicked off at full swing last night, here is a brief intro to all the foreigners who will aim at revitalizing their respective teams on both ends of the pitch.
The Argentine was behind Asamoah Gyan in the scoring list with 26 goals last season. Having moved from Al Shabaab of Saudi Arabia, he is the one the team is relying on to contend for the title.
Another Argentine from last season, Diaz is known for his creative ability in the middle of the field having come up with a few important assists last season.
The French-born Moroccan international replaced the unfortunately injury prone Chilean midfielder Marco Estrada during the January transfer window last season.
One of the few GCC players to come to UAE to play football. The Kuwait international has had a solid season forming in integral part of a defensive partnership during his time with club.
Batista Libânio (Grafite)
The Brazilian has earned a lot of respect of the fans. The only other international, as far as I can remember, is the Iranian who was once dubbed as the Asian Maradona – Ali Karimi. Having already scored 59 goals in 66 games in the AGL, he will be the one Al Ahli will rely on for goals, however, at the age of 35, does he still have it? That is the question.
Another ageing high profile player, the Chilean midfielder is considered as an Asian player in the books of the league, after receiving his Palestinian citizenship last season. His performances, last season, did not live up to the expectations of the fans and management, yet the club has kept its faith on Jimenez to deliver this season.
Jociel Ferreira da Silva
Known as Ciel in the league, the speedy forward along with Hammadi put in consistent performances on the wing. His only drawback is his ability to maintain that game time momentum for the 90 minutes, which mostly results in him, being subbed out at the 60 – 70 min mark.
Again, the Romanian was signed from rivals Al Ain, under the advice of current Al Ahli and ex Al Ain manager Cosmin Olaroiu. Though he is technically adept, question remains of his ability to perform at a high level in the center of the field at the age of 33.
With 58 goals in 49 appearances, it is a surprise that the tall Senegalese has not moved on. He will definitely be looking at improving his scoring record this season.
The Argentine was brought in from Argentine side Huracán where he managed to score 7 goals in 42 games playing as a forward. His family name was usually spelt as “De Federico”. He acknowledged via an interview with FourFourTwo Brasil that it must not be written separated.
Paulo José de Oliveira
The 28-yr-old last played for Brazilian side Bragantino and is expected to partner with Diop up front. Not sure what the club was thinking here but will have to wait and see.
The Lebanese centre-back certainly proved his worth for the club to retain his services as their Asian player.
The Brazilian was rock solid for Pameiras for 4 seasons. Last season being his first in the country/region, he played a vital role as Sharjah went on to concede the least number of goals in the league with 25. The Brazilian will be considered as an Asian player after receiving his Palestinian citizenship.
Luan Michel de Louzã
Luan, an ex teammate of Ramos’s while at Palmeiras has had significant experience playing in Europe with French side Toulouse before moving back to Brazil. At the age of 25, it comes as a surprise that he chose to move to Sharjah. Will be one of the players to look forward to and make an immediate impact as the season kicks off for them tonight.
Wanderley Santos Monteiro Júnior
Another young Brazilian who arrived at the club after a good season with Qatari side – Al Arabi.
Leonardo Lima da Silva
Hailed as one of the longest serving foreign players in the League, Lima is the final of the Brazilian quartet to make up the team. He is expected to settle in quickly among his new teammates in Sharjah.
Carlos Andrés Muñoz Rojas
The 25-yr-old Chilean international was remarkable in his first season with the club, proving much needed fire power. Hence, it comes as no surprise that his services were retained.
The Spaniard, 31, is new to the region and is expected to provide more sturdiness in the Baniyas defense.
Joan Verdú Fernández
A product of the Barcelona youth system, Verdú is the second Spaniard brought in with the intention to support the likes of Muñoz as they aim to finish strong this season.
The Korean international with World Cup experience had a brilliant first season in the league with Sharjah, earning him a nomination in the league’s foreign player of the year award category.
The French national who represented Algeria on several occasions, had has significant experience playing under the weather conditions of the region, having being played with Qatari sides El Jaish and Al Arabi in the past. He is expected to come in and hold the bond in the midfield – an aspect of Ajman’s game that was missing last season.
An Iraqi international the central defender played a big part as Ajman managed to move away from the relegation zone. The club is certainly relying on him to take charge of the clubs’ defensive affairs.
The Ivorian has been in the league since 2009, with one season spent in Kuwait. However, since his return in 2012, Boris had managed to score 43 goals in 58 league.
Captain of Moroccan U-23 football team, the midfielder has struggled with his fitness since his move from Frances’ Ligue 2 side Istres in 2013. He is expected to provide a stronger link in the middle with Ziani taking up the attacking responsibilities among the two.
Sosthenes José Santos Salles (Neto Berola)
It will be a first for Neto to play outside Brazil but with experience playing alongside the likes of Ronaldinho at Atletico Mineiro, that would be the least of the concerns. Bringing a bit of the original Brazilian flair to his playing style, that we are aware of, the Brazilian managed to score on his debut against Dhafra last night.
Fábio Virgínio de Lima
At age 21, one of the few internationals who arrived at a young age to play in the UAE. With quick and nimble touches on the ball, he is expected to entertain the Waslawi’s – Something that they had longed for last season. With four Brazilians in the squad and no Asians, Lima was the one who decided to apply for a Palestinian citizenship, hence will be considered as the Asian player for Al Wasl.
Éderson Alves Ribeiro Silva
This was bit of a surprise from the management as Éderson spent most of his time on loan spells between clubs in Brazil’s Campeonato Série B. However, he laid all doubts that we had to rest, delivering the fans with something to look forward to as he scored in his debut last night.
Caio Canedo Correa
Once considered as a promising high school athlete in the state of MA, USA, Caio decided to return to Brazil to realize the dream of playing professional football. At the age of 24, he finds himself part of the second Brazilian quartet in the league under the guidance of manager Jorginho.
With an impressive resume, the 30-yr-old Montenegro international does not require any introduction. All we can say is Jazrawis are excited. FYI, he had already scored in his debut against Ajman last night.
A very talented Argentine who decided to move to Al Jazira, when in fact, his services were chased by several European clubs. The 21-year-old Argentine midfielder was signed from River Plate, who is expected to partner with Vucinic up front, had a brace on his debut signaling what’s to come.
A seasoned footballer, the Burkina Faso international who arrived from French club Rennes, brings with him the ability to threaten the defenders on either wings. His resume boasts of the very prestigious “player of the tournament” award at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Jucilei da Silva
The Brazilian who joined Al Jazira in the January transfer window, after receiving his Palestinian citizenship, barely contributed to the team in their attempt to get close to Al Ahli last season. This should be different with significant support system around him as he aims to boss the midfield.
Silva Henrique De Sousa Luvannor
It is an exciting time for the 24-yr-old Brazilian/Moldovan as he attempts to bring his goal scoring abilities to the region. He had scored 40 goals in 77 games in Sheriff Tiraspol.
Carlos Andrés Villanueva Rolland
The Chilean has always been a reliable midfielder for Al Shabab. Alongside Haydarov, the two had created a formidable bond which saw them put in a strong showing in the latter half of the season, eventually placing the club fourth in the league.
A tough tackling midfielder, Haydarov has placed himself in the heart of the Shabab fans because his hard working nature in the midfield, occasionally being called the Gattuso of Al Shabab. It would only be ideal for the club to retain his services for this season as the club aims to improve on their performances of last season.
Edgar Bruno da Silva
With 29 goals in 45 games, it is no doubt that Edgar is among the feared strikers in the league. And it will only continue for the lanky Brazilian.
Ivan makes his debut in the league this season transferring in from Belgian side Waasland-Beveren. The Macedonian striker will aim to earn the respect of the Nasrawis by doing what he does best.
Renan Fernandes Garcia
Again, Renan is a player with extensive experience in the European circuit, however has barely featured in the last two seasons with Sampdoria. It will be interesting to see how he gels with the team considering the lack of game time, weather conditions and a new environment.
One of Nasr’s ageing yet more experienced midfielders, the Australian will rely on the support of the younger generation around him on the pitch as they aim to push for a title run this season.
The Senegalese striker did not feel like he was out of place after moving from Monaco to Al Nasr last season. His opponents will be vary of this goal scoring ability having netted 16 times in as many games.
Luís Henrique Pereira dos Santos
One of the players who was a shock addition to the squad last season but had proved himself since. The 33-yr-old still has some tricks up his sleeves as he focuses to build on where he left last season. And surely he has started on a good feet, as he scored in the 69th minute against Fujairah last night.
The Brazilian who managed to obtain an East Timorese nationality, qualifies as the clubs Asian player. He will bring depth and experience to the squad that will be fighting hard to stay in the first division.
Issam made his debut last night and surely, that he was one of the best defenders out of the two like minded teams. The Moroccan brings the tough tackling mentality to the club that one usually does not see at clubs of this caliber.
The aged Argentine striker has somehow managed to remain in the club despite a string of disappointing performances throughout his time at the club. His 14 league goals last season must have helped. However, the management will keep a close eye on him early on this season, as they attempt to survive.
Apart from Vucinic, Gyan is another player of greater importance to the league and the club that needs no introduction. The three time Golden boot award winner had scored 100 goals in all competitions since his move to Al Ain from England. There is no doubt, that he will be among the top 3 scorers by the end of this season, judging by his form in the recent Asian Champions League games.
The experienced Slovak replaces the Radoi in the midfield who moved to rivals Al Ahli. For his stature, Stoch brings a wealth of experience to an athlete’s overall game. With Omar Abdul Rahman leading the offense from the mid, Stoch is expected to sit back and create chances when his teammates are under the focus of the opponents.
The transfer of Lee to Al Ain was the most expensive transfer in the history of the K-league. But for Al Ain, it was a steal as the Korean international was generating interest from the European market. He is expected to quickly make an impact in the team with his pace and ability to dribble through the middle.
Jirès Kembo Ekoko
The DRC international was expected to leave Al Ain after being sent out on loan to Qatari side El Jaish for the entirety of last season. But he is back and will be aiming to form a partnership with Gyan with the intention of regaining the title they lost to Al Ahli.
Having previously played with Ajman and Al Shaab, the Lebanese winger, also known as “Messi of Arabia”, was an integral part of the team that secured promotion. Though a bit tardy on the defensive duties, his offensive aptitude will have the defenders on their toes.
The Ivorian is familiar to the desert heat of UAE. Having played with Al Ain for three seasons, lifting two league titles scoring 43 goals in all competitions, Boubacar knows what is expected of him. With few seasons in Germany with Energie Cottbus where he bagged 25 goals, the Ivorian has not yet shown signs of decline.
The Algerian international needs no introduction. Was an integral part of the World Cup squad that lost to Champions, Germany in the extra time. The club will look to benefit from his ability to lead the defensive line.
The second Algerian and the international teammate of of Bougherra, has an impressive CV. His role in the midfield will be to dictate the line of play throughout the middle as he did so most efficiently did so in the World Cup.
A former Real Madrid and Barcelona reserve team player, the Jordanian striker has an impressive list of players he can count as teammates including Lionel Messi, Xavi, Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho. Having being playing at the lower divisions for the years since his time as a youth player, he has not gone far. However, it is his experience that will count here.
The 29-yr-old Brazilian defender will be making his debut against Al Wahda but from the sounds of it, he will be prove difficult to maneuver against for Wahda’s Tagliabue as they go head to head tonight.
Luís Leal dos Anjos
The 27-year-old Santomean is an experienced striker with the ability to score important goals. Most importantly, he comes to UAE from Saudi side Al Ahli after netting 7 goals in 9 games.
30-yr-old Brazilian had scored 5 goals in 29 games last season for Kalba. Might not seem a lot but for a club of Kalba’s caliber, 5 is significant. Hopefully, with the help of the new transfers, he should be able to increase that tally.
The Brazilians as usual have dominated the list of top foreigners playing in the UAE this season.