Sharjah striker Rivas vows to end club’s 13-year trophy drought

Matt Monaghan 07:46 20/07/2016
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Goal machine: Gelmin Rivas.

Fearsome Sharjah new boy Gelmin Rivas has sent out a warning to the Arabian Gulf League that he is determined to better his incredible scoring exploits from Saudi Arabia.

Rivas, 27, was snapped up by the King on Sunday from superpower Al Ittihad on a three-year deal in a remarkable show of ambition from a club which has narrowly avoided relegation during the past two seasons.

He arrives with a burgeoning reputation after plundering 19 goals in 25 matches to finish second top scorer during a splendid debut campaign in the Saudi Professional League.

Speaking at his packed unveiling last night, the Venezuela centre forward highlighted an improving prowess in front of goal which is sure to unsettle the UAE’s defenders.

“Since I started playing professionally, you can see my record,” said Rivas in Sharjah Stadium’s resplendent trophy room. “Always, my number of goals is increasing with every season

“Before I joined Ittihad, I promised myself I would score 20 goals (he scored 23 times during 34 matches in all competitions).

“This season, the promise I make to myself is to score even more goals than last season. But I am not just here to score goals. I am also here to win the league or the cup, whatever is possible. This is more important than how many goals I score myself.”

The recruit from the Kingdom represents a perfect replacement for Wanderley, who will imminently complete a switch to Al Nasr.

Tantalisingly, Sharjah are not expected to stop just with Rivas. Deals are close to bring in centre-back Digao, 28, and striker Ailton, 31, from Al Hilal, while out-of-work Giorgis Donis – who led the same Saudi club to the semi-finals of the 2015 AFC Champions League – is one of two shortlisted candidates to replace rookie coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari.

“When I thought there might be a possibility to come here, I studied the club and saw whether it would meet my needs,” said Rivas. “It is not an easy thing to come and play for Sharjah, they have many talented Emirati players here and a good squad.

“I also believe with the new coach and other new foreign players they are bringing in, they will have everything to fight for the league.”

Ittihad picked Rivas out from obscurity during the summer of 2015, snapping him up from then Liga Venezolana champions Deportivo Tachira.

They have now reluctantly parted ways with the striker after being racked with internal problems. He joins fallen giants, who are ambitiously trying to end a 13-year trophy drought.

“I know this is a club with a big history,” commented Rivas. “But I know I can achieve more and make history myself with this club.

“The welcome for me has been very warm and I am here to score as many goals as possible.

“I know the Al Ittihad fans well and they were very important to me. But I came here for this new project and to score as many goals as possible.”

He added: “Meeting the Sharjah players was great. They made me feel very happy and I am so happy they received me with open arms.

“All of them were very professional from a personal point of view.

“I am 100-per-cent committed to this club. I am training as hard as possible from now on to give everything to this club.”

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