UAE’s Arabian Gulf League has seen several successful foreigners brace the league this season impressing us with their talent. Some have had significant impact on their side’s performances, while some a similar effect on the fans.
Some names include the likes of Montenegrin Mirko Vučinić, Slovakian Miroslav Stoch and Brazilians Luis Henrique Wanderley Santos and Fabio de Lima.
But then there have been a crop of ‘talented’ superstars who just couldn’t adapt to the league, for various reasons, considering the financial weight placed behind their transfers.
I will be looking at the top 5 washouts who came into the league with high expectations, but were either shown the door earlier or are on the verge of being shown the door.
Madjid Bougherra (Fujairah) 21 appearances, 1 goal: The World Cup veteran has/had the elements required of a successful defender – the physique and technical ability to deal with different levels of offensive plays. Unfortunately, the Algerian couldn’t use either of those this season. The 32-yr-old with extensive European experience with clubs like Rangers and Charlton, failed to be the leader that Fujairah needed in the defensive four. Media in UAE has blamed his ability to adapt to the conditions in the country for his dismal showing, however there is a lot more to it. Madjid, observably, had a tough time dealing with the agility of players that he faced with age playing a major factor here. Though the team can benefit from his vast experience, I am not sure if Fujairah could gamble on holding on to him for next season, based on experience alone.
Ivan Tritsckovski (Al Nasr) 12 appearances, 3 goals: The Macedonian forward joined Al Nasr with high hopes based on his experience in the Belgian league with Club Brugge. Ivan could not really compete with his colleague up front, Senegalese Ibrahima Toure, who managed to bag 17 goals in 22 appearances. His failure to adapt to the league resulted in him being taken off the club’s roster in the January Transfer window.
Germain Gustavo Herrera (Emirates) 13 appearances, 2 goals: The 31-year-old Emirates striker was retained by the club after a remarkable previous season, which saw him, tally 14 goals in 22 matches. And do keep in mind that he scored those 14 in domestic league for a club like Emirates – an achievement. However, the experienced Argentinean barely featured this season due to long withstanding injury that kept him away during most of the games and was subsequently replaced in the transfer window. Germain was only able to put two across his opponents in 13 matches.
Oussama Assaidi (Al Ahli) 12 appearances, 3 goals: Another player who came to Arabian Gulf League with high expectations after unsuccessful stints at Stoke City and Liverpool. The Moroccan winger was supposed to provide what Quaresma couldn’t in the previous season. But what was showcased to the dedicated Ahlawi’s, was a slow moving, less technicality and a player who could easily be brushed off the ball. Though it seemed like Oussama improved with every game, for a player of his caliber, I should not be saying that ‘he improved with every game’. Would be surprised if he does not get the axe.
Danilo Petrolli Bueno (Ittihad Kalba) 22 appearances, 3 goals: The Brazilian midfielder did what he could with the support that was available to him on a given match day. Unfortunately, more was expected out of the 32-year-old who was brought in to identify and create opportunities for his teammates with the overall intention of keeping Ittihad Kalba in UAE’s top division. Despite his efforts, the club was only able to earn 10 points with one game remaining, guaranteeing a drop back to the first division. And when that does happen in a weeks time, we are surely to see a complete reshuffle of their foreigner lineup.
Top officials in UAE clubs are not professional. They would rather spend money than get good players who can benefit.