Pedro Emanuel during a training session in Abu Dhabi.
Al Ain were second in the UAE Pro League standings, six points behind pacesetters Shabab Al Ahli with seven rounds to play when the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will be fighting to win the league title and the President’s Cup,” said Portuguese Emanuel in an interview with Al Ain TV. “We want to continue playing with our own style.
“We have a good chance to win the league title and all the players know very well the targets of the club. We have great ambitions and we should concentrate in order to win titles this season.”
The former defender said Al Ain are aware that they may have to play their remaining matches behind closed doors.
“Fans might not be able to attend the matches but when we play, we will give our best for the name of Al Ain.”
UAE Football Association suspended football activities in March and Emanuel said it was the right decision in helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The fact is the health of the society is more important than football,” he said. “I believe the most important lesson that we learnt during this period is that we must help each other in normal life.”
Emanuel said he has spent the lockdown conducting video training sessions and analysing previous matches.
“We live in unusual times which are difficult for everyone,” he said.
“However, I have more time with my family which is really important while I also watch previous matches in order to improve our playing style. The video training that we had is different but our players were positive which is good for the spirit of the team.”
Meloni undergoes surgery
UAE Pro League defending champions Sharjah announced on their official twitter account that young Brazilian defender Marcos Meloni has successfully undergone surgery on his knee.
The 19-year-old defender joined Sharjah last September from Brazil’s Palmeiras, featuring in 21 matches and scoring two goals in the UAE Pro League before he suffered a knee injury.
Meloni was discharged from hospital on Saturday and will undergo two months of rehabilitation and could potentially be fit for the tentative resumption of the UAE Pro League in August.
“I have big desire to return to training quickly,” Meloni said.
“I hope that I can contribute to the success of the team, especially with the good guidance of our coach. I have great responsibility now because I must fully recover before the resumption of the league. I want to thank all the fans for their nice wishes.”
Sharjah are currently fourth in the UAE Pro League standings with 35 points.
Meanwhile, UAE Pro League outfit Al Nasr announced that they have acquired the services of Argentina-born forward Sebastian Tagliabue in the first official transfer since the COVID-19 outbreak. Al Nasr announced on their official Twitter account that they have signed the 35-year-old forward on a two-year contract and he will be joining the three-time UAE Pro League champions from Al Wahda.
“Al Nasr have signed Sebastian Tagliabue, who will defend the colours of the Dean on a two-year contract,” the club said in their announcement.
The Argentine-born striker had been told earlier in May by Al Wahda that they will not be renewing his contract.
After starting his career in Paraguay with Colegiales, Tagliabue moved to Chile where he played for two different clubs before having a short stint in Colombia with Once Caldas.
He first rose to fame in Asia when he joined Saudi Arabia’s Al Ettifaq in 2010 for two years before playing for Riyadh giants Al Shabab, emerging top scorer in the Saudi Arabia Pro League 2012-2013 season.
In 2013, Tagliabue moved to UAE to join Al Wahda where he won the UAE President’s Cup, the UAE League Cup and the UAE Super Cup. He emerged the UAE Pro League top scorer twice and is the second-highest scorer in the history of the UAE top flight.
Al Ain’s coach Pedro Emanuel welcomed the new players as he said: “I submitted my report to the technical committee about the needs of the team ahead of the start of the new season.
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