Al Jazira players going through their paces under the watchful eyes of training staff Al Jazira Sports Club in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rehman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Al Jazira seem to be stuck with the label of perpetual runners-up in the UAE Football League (UFL). While the trophy has changed hands repeatedly over the past few years, Al Jazira have somehow failed to land their first ever title, being denied in the finals all too often.

The team, nicknamed ‘The Black Spiders', would invariably lead in the first stage of the competition before losing points and momentum in the second for a variety of reasons. Injuries to key players have hobbled the team at critical junctures in the past few seasons often denying it the services of its best strikers including Rafael Sobis, Ricardo Oliveira and Toni and their star midfielder Ebrahim Diaky.

Mohammad Salem Al Enazy, manager of the team, put it all down to luck. "The Arabic proverb says: ‘Give me an ounce of good luck and throw me in the sea.' We needed some good luck in the past few seasons — especially with our best players absent during the most critical phase of the competitions. This season we hope that no injuries will force us to miss the services of any player because, believe me, we are really qualified and determined to win the title this season."

Injury troubles

He added: "We have a good preparation, played strong friendly matches and the team showed great readiness and mutual understanding and I believe they will be a serious contender for the title, as usual."

Al Jazira lost a solitary match last season, winning 15 matches and drawing six while scoring 48 goals and conceding 26. "Statistically, we have a good season but finishing second in the league is like finishing last. We are tired of being second- best," Al Enazy, who was a top scorer with the club before turning manager, added.

"We are ready for both the local UFL and the continental AFC Champions line-up will be complete soon after we sign a deal with a third foreign professional whom I expect to be from South America, Brazil or Argentina, in the next few days," he concluded.

Locals:

  • Mohammad Rashid Surour, to Sharjah.
  • Abdullah Malulla, to Al Ahli on loan.
  • Ebrahim Eid, to Dubai on loan.
  • Nasser Masoud, to Al Shabab on loan.
  • Yasir Karama, to Al Ittihad on loan.

Foreigners:

  • Rafael Sobis, back home to Brazil.
  • Ricardo Oliveira, injured.
  • Founded: 1974.
  • Ground: Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium. 40000 seat capacity.
  • Coach: Abel Braga, Brazil.

Foreign players: Toni, from Ivory Coast, striker.

Best Players: Ebrahim Diaky, Sultan Bargash, Subait Khater, Abdul Salam Juma, Ahmad Dada, Ali Mabkhoot, Ali Al Amri, Ali Khaseef, Yasir Mattar, Abdullah Qasim and Ahmad Juma.

Achievements:

GCC Clubs Championship in 2007.