Kenwyne Jones has set himself a target of “nine goals” after being presented by Al Jazira alongside fellow new signing Angel Lafita.
Jones, 31, has been recruited by Jazira from Championship club Cardiff City on a six month loan deal to fill the void left by injured striker Mirko Vucinic, while Lafita has arrived on a two-and-a-half year contract from Spanish club Getafe and will replace Brazilian midfielder Thiago Neves.
Despite having only arrived in the UAE this week, both players are expected to start Friday’s Arabian Gulf League match against Al Wasl at the Zabeel stadium.
“I want to go out there and try to help out the team straightaway, even though it will take a few games to get used to the team,” Jones said.
“I hope I can score. That’s why I was brought here. I will try to use all my Premier League experience, my international and World Cup experience. If we can work as a unit, we can achieve something.
“It is not easy for me to come and say I will score a million goals at once but I will try to get at least nine.”
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Lafita said he consulted with former Jazira midfielder Abdelaziz Barrada, and Luis Garcia, his old coach at Getafe now in charge at Baniyas, and their recommendations made it a quick and easy decision.
“They spoke very high of the AGL and Jazira,” Lafita said. “I was given a warm welcome and now look forward to working together with my new teammates for the success of the team.”
Jazira will hope the arrival of Jones and Lafita will help revitalise the team after a disappointing first half of the season. Jazira, last year’s runners-up, are languishing in 10th place in the league table having lost seven of their 13 matches. Their poor form ultimately led to the sacking of manager Abel Braga, who has been succeeded by Dutchman Henk Ten Cate.
“I was really impressed with the attitudes of both Kenwyne Jones and Angel Lafita,” Gianluca Nani, Jazira’s sporting director, said.
“They were both pushing to come here and work for Jazira. For me, it was really important because we don’t want players to come here just for money or to enjoy the weather. I can promise it was not the money and it helped me a lot to conclude the deals.”
When asked if Jazira were looking for further additions to the squad during the mid-season transfer, Nani said: “We will be looking for the opportunities when the market is open.
“Our job is to be ready for both local and international player opportunities that may come during this period. But at the moment we are only thinking of Friday’s game.
“We are happy with the squad at the moment but still there are some injured players, particularly in defence, so we’ll see where we stand in the coming weeks. When the market is open a lot can happen.”