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Dhafra over the moon with signing of Luna

Dhafra over the moon with signing of Luna

Argentinian midfielder joins topscorer Diop at Western Knights

By Alex Leach (senior Reporter)

Published: Sat 13 Jun 2015, 9:57 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:13 PM

San Martin’s midfielder Jorge Luna (left) takes a free-kick against Boca Juniors during their Argentine First Division football match, at the Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 30, 2012. — AFP

Dubai — Al Dhafra have signed Argentinian attacking midfielder Jorge Luna on a two-year contract, with the option of a further year in the 2017/2018 campaign.

The 28-year-old, who is best deployed as the second striker or an orthodox number 10, joins the Western Knights just a matter of days after the club confirmed they’d released three of their four-strong, foreign-player contingent.

Midfielder Youssef Kaddioui, of Morocco, and Lebanese defender Bilal Najjarine have both been deemed surplus to requirements at Hamdan bin Zayed Stadium, where Iraqi loanee Humam Tareq hasn’t been offered an extended stay and he thus returns to Al Ahli.

Only Senegalese topscorer Makhete Diop has been retained from last season’s overseas quota and it’s now hoped Luna’s arrival can help fire the club further up the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) table.

Diop scored 12 of Dhafra’s 31 league goals in 2014/2015 as Dhafra eventually finished well clear of relegation trouble in 11th place, some 12 points ahead of the relegated, second-from-bottom club Ajman. However, their scoring record was the fourth-worst overall in the top flight and only Fujairah (23), the aforementioned Orange Brigade (27) and fellow basement battlers Ittihad Kalba (17) netted fewer strikes last term.

Sharjah, who finished a position and point below Dhafra in 12th spot, even managed to find the net five more times with 36, thanks primarily to the free-scoring exploits of their own in-form frontman Wanderley Santos (17).

What must be galling for Dhafra boss Laurent Banide too is that they had the fifth tightest defence in the entire top flight behind champions Al Ain (19), Al Ahli (27), Al Nasr and Al Wahda (both 32) with 33.

Therefore, if they were to score more and maintain their defensive efficiency and frugal concession rate, there is every chance they could win more matches and finish higher in 2015/2016.

Dhafra emerged victorious in only five of their 26 AGL fixtures in the season just gone, bettering only the win ratios of Ajman (two) and Kalba (three) as they struggled to shake off their deserved reputation as perennial draw specialists. Banide’s men were held to a share of the spoils on no less than 12 occasions and lost nine times.

Luna spent last season at Chilean Primera Division club Santiago Wanderers, where he scored 14 goals in 32 club appearances in total. He’d previously played his entire career in his native homeland up until then, having had prior spells at Gimnasia de Jujuy (2007-2012), San Martin de San Juan (2012-2013) and Estudiantes de La Plata (2013-2014).


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