Al Shorta have sacked Egyptian manager Mohamed Youssef after the shock 3-1 loss at home to lower division side Al Jaish in the Iraqi FA Cup, and have replaced him with experienced Iraqi coach Nadhum Shaker.
Mohamed Youssef did fairly well with the Harps, steering them into third position in the league table with only two league defeats, but disappointing goalless draws with Al Naft and Al Semawah severely dented Al Shorta's hopes of the title and the final nail in the coffin was the humiliating defeat at the hands of Al Jaish in the cup.
Nadhum Shaker, previously manager of Al Quwa Al Jawiya and the Iraqi national team, is the man that the Al Shorta board have chosen for the job and his task is realistically to take Al Shorta as high as possible in the league table in the hope of qualifying for the Arab Club Championship, as the league title seems out of reach now. Nadhum Shaker was manager of the Iraq national team when they won their most recent trophy, the 2009 UAE International Cup.
Al Shorta have been drawn with Iraqi Division 1 side Al Jaish in the Round of 32 of the 2016-17 Iraqi FA Cup.
Al Shorta are one of many big sides who have been drawn with lower division sides, including Al Zawraa, Naft Al Wasat and Al Quwa Al Jawiya.
The Police have never won the Iraqi FA Cup before and they will be itching to win the trophy and qualify for the 2018 AFC Cup (or possibly the AFC Champions League).
The game will be played on 27 March, and the winners will face Zakho or Al Hudod in the Round of 16.
Al Shorta have completed the signings of two strikers, a midfielder and a goalkeeper, while also saying goodbye to their 2013-14 Player of the Season.
The two strikers that Al Shorta have snapped up are young prospect Ali Yousif from Al Kahrabaa (on loan), and Beninese international striker Mohamed Aoudou, who has spent the majority of his career playing in Africa aside from short stints in Croatia and France.
The midfielder being welcomed to the ten-time champions is Hatem Zidan, who joins from Zakho. Hatem won the league title with Al Zawraa last season and was one of Zakho's best players in their poor start to this season. The goalkeeper who has joined the club is none other than Iraq's first choice 'keeper Mohammed Hameed, who is returning to his previous home. Hameed won the league title twice with Al Shorta and he will provide great competition for the in-form 22 year-old goalie Ahmed Basil.
These signings have led to Al Shorta loaning out young goalkeeper Mohammed Abbas and young forward Karrar Hameed, both to Al Kahrabaa (where Al Shorta forward Hassan Ali is also spending the rest of the season). The Green Harps have also said goodbye to Syrian defender Hamdy Al-Massri. He was Al Shorta's Player of the Season in the 2013-14 campaign, winning the league with the club that season, but his form has dipped significantly since those days and Al Shorta will have to hope that Abdul-Hamid Sami can effectively fill his place.
Al Shorta have completed a deal that will see 31 year-old Egyptian defender Abdul-Hamid Sami join the club to participate in the remaining half of the 2016-17 campaign.
Abdul-Hamid is joining from Egyptian side Misr Lel Makkasa, who are one of three Egyptian sides he has played for, with the other two being Al Ismaily and Wadi Degla.
Sami knows what it takes to win a league title, having won the Egyptian League during his time at Al Ismaily. Al Shorta are aiming to win their eleventh league title this season and this addition of another foreign player to the squad should help in trying to achieve that goal.
Al Shorta have signed experienced goalkeeper Sarhang Muhsin from Erbil, who are selling a lot of their players following their withdrawal from the league this season.
Sarhang has been at Erbil for over a decade and won the league title four times. He has been capped a handful of times for the Iraq national team, and he should hopefully be a good replacement for Noor Sabri who left the club for Al Minaa earlier this month.
In what has come as a huge surprise to everyone associated with Al Shorta, experienced goalkeeper Noor Sabri and club legend and captain Amjad Kalaf have both been released by the club.
Noor, who won the AFC Asian Cup in 2007 with Iraq, requested to leave the club after the 3-1 defeat to Al Quwa Al Jawiya. His exact reasons for leaving haven't been made public, and the shot-stopper will be joining Basra-based outfit Al Minaa after coach Mohamed Youssef agreed to allow his release.
Captain Amjad Kalaf will be joining Al Shorta's fierce rivals Al Zawraa at the request of manager Mohamed Youssef. Youssef blamed Kalaf's 'poor form', however nobody is quite sure what Youssef means by this as Kalaf scored four goals already this season and has been playing well. Fans are most certainly disgruntled and confused with the decision to kick out one of the club's best and most loyal players who has refused many offers (including from Al Zawraa) over the past decade to stay at the club and Youssef has questionably let him join one of the club's rivals.
Ahmed Magdy will finally be allowed to play competitive matches for Al Shorta as he has sorted out the administrative issues that were preventing him from doing so.
Ahmed, who is on a season-long loan from Petrojet F.C. of Egypt, has been at the club since the summer but has only been able to make appearances in friendly matches. The defensive midfielder is set to make his debut in Al Shorta's upcoming game with Amanat Baghdad as the Harps aim to end their four game winless run.
Al Shorta have signed an official deal with Adidas to manufacture their new home and away kits for the remainder of the 2016-17 season, as well as the training kits and jackets.
The new kits are set to have a similar design to Real Madrid's current kits, which are also manufactured by Adidas. Al Shorta's new home kit will of course be green with white trimmings, but the away kit is set to be purple rather than white, which is a throwback to the days of Aliyat Al Shorta in the 1960s and 1970s.
Al Shorta will debut their new home kit in the upcoming match against Zakho on Thursday, and it will be the first time since October 2013 that Al Shorta will wear an Adidas kit in a competitive game.
Al Shorta's scheduled match with Al Naft at the Al Naft Stadium has been postponed due to four of Al Naft's key players on international duty in the AFC U-19 Championship.
This will mean that Al Shorta will now have a game in hand over most of the other teams in the league for the foreseeable future, and will allow other teams to overtake Al Shorta in the table in the next round of matches.
Al Shorta's next match is against Al Semawah on 20 October, and they have played three friendly matches in preparation for the league's return, all of them ending in stalemate (1-1 draw against Karbalaa, 1-1 draw with Al Minaa and 0-0 draw at Amanat Baghdad).
Ahmed Ibrahim has signed for Emirates Club of UAE just weeks after signing for Al Shorta, without playing a single game for the Iraqi side.
When Ahmed signed a contract with Al Shorta last month, he had a clause included that allowed him to leave the club if an offer from a foreign team came his way.
It didn't take long for that to happen as Emirates Club submitted an offer for the Iraq international centre-back that Al Shorta had to accept. Ahmed has now signed a contract with the Emirati side and is expected to feature in their next game.
Al Shorta have re-signed Syrian defender Hamdy Al-Massri, their 2013-14 Player of the Season, and have also completed the signing of Ahmed Ibrahim, arguably the best centre-back Iraq has to offer.
Hamdy (pictured left) played for Al Shorta in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. In the 2013-14 season, he scored Al Shorta's Goal of the Season against Al Karkh and he also claimed Al Shorta's Player of the Season award as he helped the Police to their tenth national league title. The 2014-15 season saw him help Al Shorta reach the round of 16 in the AFC Cup and finish third in the league. He then joined Al Muharraq of Bahrain before moving to Omani outfit Dhofar and has now returned to Al Shorta.
Ahmed Ibrahim (pictured below) started his career at Al Shirqat before moving to Salahaddin and then Erbil. At Erbil, he won the 2011-12 Iraqi Premier League and he also reached two AFC Cup finals with the Yellow Castles. He then played abroad for the next two seasons and has now signed for Al Shorta just before the end of the transfer window. Arguably Iraq's best centre-back at the moment, Ahmed was a key member of the Iraq team that reached the semi-finals of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup and was one of the three overaged players in Iraq's 2016 Rio Olympics squad, helping the young Lions to an impressive 0-0 draw against Neymar's eventual gold-medalists Brazil. These are two great signings that will help Al Shorta massively in their quest for glory next season.
Al Shorta have completed the signings of Hussein Abdul Wahid from Al Zawraa, Miran Khesro from Erbil and youngster Rafid Muayad, while forward Karrar Hameed has returned from his loan spell at Al Hudod.
Hussein Abdul Wahid played for Al Shorta between 2012 and 2015, winning the league twice and captaining the team during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons and his return to the club will be a great boost to the midfield. Miran Khesro is, like Hussein Abdul Wahid, an Iraq international midfielder; he is joining the club from Erbil and he has also had the experience of winning the Iraqi Premier League title earlier on in his career. He should prove to be a great threat going forward next season. Rafid Muayad, born in 1998, is a young forward who recently signed a contract with European giants Atlético Madrid to play for their youth team. However, things didn't work out for the young star and he returned to Iraq in the hope of developing his promising career, and Al Shorta should be able to help him with that. Furthermore, another young forward, Karrar Hameed, has signed a new contract with Al Shorta. Karrar was part of the squad that won the league title in 2013-14, scoring an important goal against Naft Misan that season, and spent last season on loan with Al Hudod.
In other news, Al Shorta's new signing Bassam Qabel has decided to terminate his contract with the club despite signing just a few weeks ago. Bassam said that he now feels that he would not be getting as much game time as he first thought if he stays at Al Shorta and manager Mohamed Youssef has allowed him to leave.
Al Shorta will kick off their 2016-17 Iraqi Premier League campaign with a derby against Al Talaba, scheduled to be hosted by Al Shaab Stadium, the home of Iraqi football.
After that game, Al Shorta will face both promoted sides, Al Hussein and Al Bahri. They will end their season with a tough away game against Basra-based side Al Minaa.
The fixtures for the first round of the league, scheduled to start on 15 September, are listed below:
Al Talaba vs. Al Shorta
Al Kahrabaa vs. Al Zawraa
Al Minaa vs. Al Hussein
Zakho vs. Al Quwa Al Jawiya
Al Najaf vs. Al Bahri
Al Hudod vs. Karbalaa
Naft Al Wasat vs. Al Naft
Al Karkh vs. Erbil
Amanat Baghdad vs. Al Semawah
Naft Misan vs. Naft Al Junoob
Al Shorta have signed Egyptian midfielder Ahmed Magdy Al-Husseiny on a season-long loan from Petrojet Football Club.
Ahmed can play in a variety of positions including central midfield, central defence and even right back if required. He is the first foreign player to join Al Shorta in this summer transfer window and two more foreigners are expected to join the club before the start of the season.
Meanwhile, Al Shorta have said goodbye to two players and have sent another out on loan. Midfielder Amjad Atwan has joined his former club Naft Al Wasat, while forward Akram Jassim has been released by the club. Young striker Hassan Ali Kadhim has joined Al Kahrabaa on a season-long loan.
Al Shorta have signed Iraqi defender Kosrat Baez Ali from Erbil in what is their 12th signing of the summer.
Kosrat was a regular for Erbil in the 2015-16 campaign, scoring one goal in a 3-1 victory over Al Minaa. He will join the club alongside fellow new defenders Ali Lateef, Essam Yassin and Faisal Jassim as Al Shorta attempt to win the league title for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
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