Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE - Ashok Puro­hit

In a ca­reer-defin­ing move, ex­pe­ri­enced Oman na­tional team mid­fielder Raed Ibrahim Saleh has signed a two-year deal with Malta's mul­ti­ple do­mes­tic league cham­pi­ons, Val­letta FC, re­cently. This is the first time that Raed will be play­ing for an Euro­pean club.

Raed was of­fi­cially un­veiled at the club premises in Val­letta, the cap­i­tal city of Malta last week. The 25 year old has al­ready be­gun train­ing with the squad as Val­letta gears up for its com­mit­ments in the com­ing days in the UEFA Europa League.

Coached by Ser­bian Zo­ran Popovic, who had pre­vi­ously coached Omani club, Sa­ham, the club is com­pet­ing in the Europa League sec­ond qual­i­fy­ing round against FC Utrecht.

It held the Dutch side to a goal­less draw in the first-leg to keep its hopes alive to ad­vanc­ing in the Europa League with the sec­ond-leg match sched­uled on Thurs­day.

Val­letta was founded in 1943 and has won the Mal­tese Premier League a whop­ping 21 times while it claimed the Mal­tese FA Tro­phy 13 times.

An 11-time win­ner of Mal­tese Su­per Cup, the club fin­ished fourth in the Premier League last sea­son.

Raed moved to Malta from Oman's Dho­far Club on a free trans­fer with the deal sealed by Is­sam al Shan­fari, an Omani play­ers’ agent.

Raed made his Oman de­but in 2012 and since then has been a

reg­u­lar face in the na­tional team's cam­paign in all ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions.

He was a key mem­ber of Dho­far's squad in the 2016-17 sea­son when the club clinched a his­toric tenth do­mes­tic league ti­tle and fin­ished as the His Majesty's Cup run­ner-up, los­ing to Al Suwaiq.

The ex­pe­ri­enced mid­fielder had also played a lead­ing role in Fanja's Oman­tel Pro­fes­sional League ti­tle win in 2015 and also fea­tured in the club's His Majesty's Cup tri­umph in 2014.

Prior to join­ing Fanja, Raed had a six-year spell with former OPL cham­pion Al Arouba.

The two-year deal with the

Mal­tese club was fi­nalised through Shan­fari, who over the past cou­ple of years has been in­stru­men­tal in clinch­ing deals in Europe, in par­tic­u­lar, Spain, for tal­ented Omani foot­ballers.

Last year, Shan­fari had sealed a con­tract for promis­ing 21 year old Oman Olympic team player, Azan al Tam­tami, with Span­ish League's De­portivo Alaves B team.

The Mus­cat-based Tam­tami had played for FC Biel-Bi­enne in the Swiss Chal­lenge League, a sec­ond-tier league in Switzer­land.

Be­sides Tam­tami, Shan­fari was in­stru­men­tal in help­ing na­tional team de­fender

Mo­hammed Faraj al Rawahi sign a deal with Spain's Girono FC B.

With his sound con­tacts in Europe, Shan­fari claims to have struck deals for nearly 50 play­ers from Africa and Asia over the past cou­ple of years.

Last year he had also man­aged to get tri­als for Salah al Yahyai of Seeb Club with Span­ish League's Osasuna.

Be­sides Tam­tami, Rawahi and now Raed, the other Omani play­ers who had played in Europe so far have been Ali al Habsi, who re­cently bade good­bye to Euro­pean foot­ball af­ter 14 years, and striker Imad al Hosni, who had a sea­son (2009-10) with Bel­gian club RC Charleroi.

Oman na­tional team mid­fielder Raed Ibrahim (sec­ond from right), his agent Is­sam al Shan­fari (sec­ond from left), and Val­letta FC of­fi­cials af­ter the sign­ing of a two-year deal be­tween Raed and Val­letta in Malta

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