Cannavaro relishing UAE challenge
Fabio Cannavaro has admitted the offer to join Al Ahli was too good to turn down, with the 36-year-old saying he expects to end his playing career in the United Arab Emirates. The former Italy captain, whose international career came to a disappointing conclusion with Gli Azzurri's exit in the group stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ having lifted the trophy four years previously in Germany, penned a two-year deal with the Dubai club last month.
"I accepted Al Ahli's offer mainly because it was the best offer for me and my family," Cannavaro said. "I played in Italy and Spain for 20 years. I needed a change, so I made it.
"I'm happy to join Al Ahli as this is a new journey in my career and I'm looking forward to it. The UAE is a nice country. I hope that I can end my career with Al Ahli, who are investing in football for the future. I have met my new team-mates and they showed their desire to win, which will be our main motivation."
Al Ahli have turned to the former Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid defender in a bid to improve on a disappointing season last term. They finished eighth in the UAE League and exited the AFC Champions League at the first hurdle after finishing bottom of Group D.
Cannavaro, Italy's most-capped player, also hopes to play a prominent role in developing the club's young talent. "I have followed the UAE League and I saw Al Ahli in the AFC Champions League," he said.
"I hope that we will put all our efforts into getting better results and good achievements next year. I came here to use all my experience and help the young players."
Al Ahli executive manager Ahmad Khalifa Hammad was delighted with the Italian's capture. "Cannavaro will join us for two seasons and he will be a big addition for us," he said. "Fabio will be the new captain of the team because he has a strong personality on the pitch, and he has good leadership and experience."
Hammad also confirmed former Leeds United and Aston Villa manager David O'Leary will be presented as the club's new coach in the coming days. "We will also announce the official signing of coach David O'Leary in an official press conference," he added. "We hope that we can build a good team to compete in the new season."