Dubai: Inaugural UFL champions Al Ahli unveiled their two latest signings as the senior squad trained one last time before embarking on their tour to Australia Wednesday.
Chilean attacking playmaker Luis Jimenez and Emirati Amir Mubarak were unveiled before the media at the Armani Hotel here yesterday in the presence of Ahmad Hamad Khalifa, CEO, Al Ahli, and former Italy skipper Fabio Cannavaro, who now acts as the club's brand ambassador.
"We welcome these new players to our club and wish them all the best. We have watched them both closely and we have signed them as they bring in value to our team," Khalifa said in his welcome note. After winning the inaugural version of the professional league in 2008-'09, Al Ahli have struggled after finishing in eighth position for the past two years.
Jimenez, who turned 27 in June, has played for some of the top clubs in Italy including Fiorentina, Lazio, Internazionale, Parma and Cesena with who he was on loan from Ternana last season. The Chilean also spent a season in the English Premier League with West Ham United for whom he turned up on 11 occasions finding the goal once.
But now with a fresh challenge beckoning him, Jimenez, who donned national colours for Chile during the recent Copa America, is eager on his latest assignment in Dubai. "I have spent too many years in Europe and I was on the look out for a fresh opportunity in my career. I needed a change and a new challenge and that prompted me to look at the UAE and Al Ahli in particular," he said. "I wanted a winning club and Al Ahli seemed to be the right choice. And now with each passing day I think I have made the right decision by choosing a club like Al Ahli," he added.
Jimenez is married to Chilean model Maria Jose Lopez and the couple have triplets together, all girls — Rebeca, Isidora and Rafaela, born on June 15 last year.
Amir Mubarak, who has made the move from Al Nasr, is hoping to help his new club with some trophies. "I hope this year will be a successful one for Al Ahli. We have a challenge before us and we need to put in the hard work and deliver by winning trophies by the end of the season," Mubarak said.
"Al Ahli is a good club they are big and I hope we can live up to expectations. Things are not going to be easy for sure. And anyone who prepares well for the season will win," he added.
Mubarak, who is a regular in Srecko Katanec's UAE squad is hopeful he can rise to the challenge. "Winning will be very much on our mind, but I also want to evolve into an all-round player. So the focus will be on good health."
Diego Armando Maradona, new head coach of Al Wasl Football Club, arrived last night at 11pm to Dubai through the Private Majlis of the Dubai International Airport.
Maradona was received by officials from Al Wasl Football Club, as he formally starts his tenure leading Al Wasl during the next two seasons. The new head coach will meet with his staff of coaches to discuss progress and to make plans for how training will proceed. He will also sit with Al Wasl officials to assess the team's development and to discuss potential candidates for the fourth foreign player to join the team.
Maradona was appointed as head coach on the May 16, 2011, and officially unveiled through a press conference on June 4. He then spent a few weeks in the UAE and now he's finally back from Argentina.