Jets sign Iraqi international

The Newcastle Jets have bolstered their squad by signing Iraqi international Ali Abbas Al-Hilfi for the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season as an injury replacement for Shaun Ontong.

The Newcastle Jets have bolstered their squad by signing Iraqi international Ali Abbas Al-Hilfi for the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season as an injury replacement for Shaun Ontong.

Ontong's wretched run in the Hyundai A-League continued when he limped from the filed during Newcastle's 1-0 win over the Gold Coast last month with a season-ending Archillis injury.

However, the Jets have turned a negative into a positive by prudent use of the injury replacement rule by signing the talented 23-year-old Abbas, who was a part of the Iraq national team squad that stunned the football world when they lifted the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, defeating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the final.

"We are very pleased and proud to have Ali on board as a part of our club as the team embarks on the remainder of the season," Newcastle CEO John Tsatsimas said on Friday.

"No doubt he will bring a great degree of verve and vitality to the side, and we have no doubts that he will continue to develop on the potential that he has shown with the Iraqi national team."

Abbas, who plays as an attacking midfielder on the left side of the park, recently grabbed headlines by seeking asylum in Australia after playing against the Olyroos for the Iraqi Under-23 side in a 2008 Beijing Olympics qualifier in Gosford last November.

After settling in Australia, he has played for NSW Premier League outfit, Marconi Stallions, which adds to stints with Al-Talaba and Al-Quwa Al-Jawlya in his homeland.

Football Federation of Australia has granted Abbas a late approval to play in Sunday's crucial Round 7 Hyundai A-League clash against Sydney FC which adds to Newcastle's attacking prowess after the recent signing of Labinot Haliti from the Polish league.

"We obviously have a huge match against one of our main rivals in Sydney FC this weekend, so Ali's signing comes at a wonderful time for us," said Tsatsimas.

"He has been trialling here for the past few days and Branko Culina and his coaching staff were determined to have him as part of the squad moving forward,"

"We wish him and the team all the very best heading into the big game."