By Allaam Ousman www.emirates247.com
Brazil international Grafiti aims to live up to the high expectations of his newly adopted club Al Ahli in Dubai by scoring plenty of goals during the upcoming season.
“My objective is always to score goals – I came here to do that. I know it’s going to be difficult to adapt initially because of the weather and the fact that it is another country, but the main purpose of me being here is to score goals for Ahli,” said Grafite when he was presented to the media along with his compatriot Jaja in Dubai on Sunday.
Al Ahli CEO Ahmed Khalifa Hammad expressed his delight at introducing their newest signings At the Top (124th floor) of the iconic Burj Khalifa.
Recently retired veteran Fabio Cannavaro, last year’s Al Ahli skipper and now Technical Director of the club, presented the club jerseys to the new players.
“I am grateful to Al Ahli for giving me a chance to come here,” said Grafite, 32, who was the Germany Player of the Year with Bundesliga champions Wolsfburg in 2008-09.
“I have played well in France and Germany and now I want to do the same with Al Ahli,” said the Brazilian striker who scored 59 goals in 107 appearances at Wolfsburg including 28 strikes during their title-winning campaign, and became only the third foreign player to be named Football of the year in Germany that season.
The former Le Mans and Sao Paulo striker told reporters he wants to enjoy more success in the UAE.
“I am very happy to be here as it gives me so much of confidence. I want to give my best and score goals like before to ensure the success of this club, just like I did in France and Germany,” said Grafite who was picked by Carlos Alberto to play for the Selecao.
“It’s normal to feel pressure at a big club, but we’re here to do better than last year – that’s the purpose.”
Jaja, 25, on a three-year contract, said he was also happy to have Grafite playing with him.
“I want to enjoy my time here, and though there are huge expectations here from me, I hope to make everyone happy with my football,” said Jaja, who last played for Turkish runners-up Trabzonspor.
“I will give my best to my new club,” he reiterated.
UAE giants Al Ahli have finished the past two seasons in eighth place having won the Pro-League title in 2008-09.
“Dubai is a safe place and I decided to make the move keeping my family in mind. I know the coach Ivan Hasek from playing against his team in the (French) league and when I heard the proposal, I was happy to come,” said Grafite who is here on a two-year deal.
Hasek’s aim is to improve on their eighth-placed finish in the Pro-League last season.
“Finishing eighth in the past two seasons is hardly a position for a club of the stature of Al Ahli,” said Hasek.
The Czech coached Al Ahli in 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons winning three championships in two seasons, including the first edition of the Etisalat Pro-League.
“I want to thank the management for bringing in some big name players to the club this season. I am very happy with these players and we agreed to have them with us due to the quality each of them brings along with them.”
Al Ahli, who sacked former Aston Villa and Leeds boss David O’Leary during the 2010-11 season, have also signed Chilean international Luis Jimenez.
Hasek added: “It’s really very difficult to compare what we had in 2009 and now. But with Al Ahli there is more pressure as they are among the biggest clubs with a lot of history. So naturally, the pressure is more.”