Al Nasr; the oldest club in the UAE formed in 1945. The "Blue Wave" as the club is better known is a mainstay of local football.[Pictured - The Al Nasr football team] Image Credit: HADRIAN HERNANDEZ/Gulf News

Dubai : The sudden and tragic demise of 31-year-old striker Salem Sa'ad last November from a massive heart attack on the training ground was at the forefront of players' minds last season as they fought to save the club from relegation and honour Sa'ad's memory.

They managed to put nine points between themselves and Emirates Club, despite the further unsettling influence of three coaching handovers in one year.

Frank Pagelsdorf and Laurent Banide were both sacked, before Saudi Arabia's Brazilian 2007 Asian Cup (losing finalist) coach Helios dos Anjos steadied the tiller towards the end of the term — he now picks up from where he left off this season, with many attributing his efforts to the team's league survival.

This isn't how things are meant to be at Al Nasr; the oldest club in the UAE formed in 1945.

The "Blue Wave" as the club is better known is a mainstay of local football.

Portal

The club acted as a portal to the game in the Middle East, after pitching their wits against the travelling British Army and Navy teams docked in Deira.

Indeed, ‘Victory' as Al Nasr translates in English hasn't been overdosing on triumph of late with 24 years since their last league title and only two fourth place finishes in the last decade (2004/05 and 2002/03) counting as their best efforts recently.

Two Vice President's Cup wins in 2000 and 2002 served as a welcome distraction to fans, but even that won't stop their trophy cabinet from echoing.

At the time of print Al Nasr are yet to fill their third foreign player spot to accompany Ecuadorian striker Carlos Tenorio (still under contract) and Brazilian attacking-midfielder Leo Lima who joined over the summer from Sao Paulo.

Dos Anjos said he wanted time to see how the players settled in before he made his final foreign selection. But whoever comes in will be expected to provide the experience that was sorely lacking last term.

Local additions, such as Ali Abbas and Badr Al Ghoud from Al Ahli and Hilal Saeed from Al Ain, all previous league and cup winners, will also help.

Director of football Mohammad Khatfoor calls it quality over quantity, the reverse to last year's situation where he felt the youngsters didn't have the correct mentality to get out of a bad run of results.

Team Manager Khalid Obaid said the team lost too many games in the last few minutes and rued inconsistency, but now he feels the fight will be back on for teams coming up against Al Nasr.

Dos Anjos, who unlike last year now has a complete technical panel in place can already see that his team are starting to believe they can achieve more. And that's important because a top four finish is the gauntlet laid down to the team in pre-season.