Our Arabian Gulf League reporter Matt Monaghan decides his picks of the week in the three categories: player, goal and coach of the week.
Player of the week
Caio Canedo (Al Wasl)
The Cheetahs’ Brazilian trio keep on excelling, one of them guaranteed to step up. Forward Caio was the man this week, his brace seeing Wasl come from behind to beat Sharjah 2-1. His second was a peach, smashing in from the edge of the box with a fierce outswinger to move into fifth.
Goal of the week
Boubacar Sanogo (Fujairah)
The Ivory Coast striker was a constant menace against woeful Al Wahda. He excelled when firing in the only goal. Sharp feet earned him an inch of space inside the area while heading away from Hamdan Al Kamali, a beautiful low strike curving into the bottom corner.
Coach of the week
Laurent Banide (Al Dhafra)
The Frenchman must feel at home with the Western Knights. Since beginning his third spell in charge during the winter break, he has added security and belief to a side careering down the standings. On Friday, a two-goal deficit ended in a creditable 2-2 draw against Al Nasr. This salvage job sees Banide’s record stand at one defeat in eight.
Wahda getting just desserts
With each dismal result, Al Wahda’s folly at dispensing with Jose Peseiro grows. This is not to purely chastise ‘technical director’ Sami Al Jaber. But how could any football decision have led to Peseiro’s February exit? The Portuguese led the unfashionable Clarets to second last term, keeping them in the top four for all this. Four defeats in six matches in all competitions have followed since his forced exit. Wahda continue to justify the call. Each loss makes such statements, and the club’s top four hopes, ever-more flimsy.
Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu is my friend. His club’s disappointing season continued on Thursday, the 1-0 defeat at Arabian Gulf League leaders Al Ain leaving them seventh.
It has been such a poor season for the treble holders, and I am very sad for him. I know how passionate Cosmin is. There are all these rumours, but he is one of the strongest coaches in the Middle East and could go anywhere he wants to work – he is that good.
I know how sad he is about what is happening. Ahli have a fine coach in Cosmin, one of the best.
— ASAMOAH GYAN (@ASAMOAH_GYAN3) April 2, 2015
The match against the Boss was settled by Asamoah Gyan’s solitary strike, yet it was a match containing a bizarre sending off for Salmeen Khamis.
Referee Ammar Ali Al Junaibi made a big mistake, the centre-back never touched UAE goalkeeper Khalid Essa. These things happen, it is football. But something should be done about incidents like this, it is why I support video technology. No one can be 100 per cent on every decision.
The referee is a big part of football – just like the supporters, players and coaches. Controversial errors could be avoided if they got help from elsewhere.
We have seen how well the goal-line technology works in the English Premier League. FIFA have looked at various forms of technology and this should continue.
When you see things like Khamis’ red card, we should be working towards a system where these things cannot happen. Everything can change when you have access to a replay. An incident can look so different at full speed.
It was a great result for Al Ain, maintaining their four-point advantage. They just need to keep going game-by-game, ticking off fixtures as they go. There are only five matches left.
Second-placed Al Jazira were not at their best against Ittihad Kalba, yet they won 3-0. They cannot be discounted, especially with Al Ain set to be distracted by the AFC Champions League.
I also want to say mabrook to Al Wasl. Their 2-1 win against Sharjah moved them up to fifth place, just three points behind sinking Al Wahda who reside in the final Asian-qualifying spot. They keep getting stronger all the time.
With the President’s Cup coming after the league finishes next month, I think they or Jazira are the favourites to win it.
Brazilian midfielder Jucilei has warned his Al Jazira team-mates not to underestimate Abu Dhabi neighbours Al Wahda when the two teams clash next weekend.
The Clarets have won only one game since Sami Al Jaber took over from Jose Peseiro, who was dismissed in February.
Wahda were beaten 1-0 at Fujairah on Friday, which had followed their only win under the former Saudi Arabia international, a 3-0 defeat of relegation-threatened Ajman.
Al Jaber has overseen four defeats and a draw, but Jucilei believes Wahda will be fired up for next Sunday’s game, the first of a double header against local rivals, Bani Yas to come the following Friday.
— Sport360° (@Sport_360) April 4, 2015
“First of all, it’s a derby, so regardless of position we are aware Al Wahda will be a difficult game,” said the former Corinthians and Anzhi Makhachkala man.
“Also, we’re playing in their home. They want to get into a better position to make the AFC Champions League competition and they will be trying to do their best, especially after losing (on Friday),” he said.
The 26-year-old admitted the Pride of Abu Dhabi struggled in their 3-0 win over Ittihad Kalba on Friday.
“We struggled in the first half. Kalba were closing all areas and defending,” he said.
“We discussed how to improve at half-time and, gladly, we scored the goal within the first 10 minutes and things became easier, and we scored another two goals.”
Jazira head coach Eric Gerets, meanwhile, has praised his UAE Under-23 youngsters who qualified for next year’s AFC U23 Championships in Qatar.
The Belgian has said he will integrate the youngsters into the first team when he feels they are ready.
Sultan Al Suwaidi, Khalfan Mubarak and Ahmed Rabeya were all part of the squad that defeated Yemen last Tuesday to top Group D, while Ahmed Al Attas, Sultan Al Munziri and Saif Khalfan were all in the original 28 man squad.
“I want to congratulate my young international players because of their victory and qualification for an important tournament,” said Gerets.
“That’s good for them, it’s good for the country. It’s not good for me because I will miss them again for a long time, but that’s life.
“I don’t know if I will use them, if everybody is fit, but already I have put the youngsters in. When I am sure that they have enough talent and can help the team there is no reason not to put them in the game. Maybe not all the game but maybe a certain amount is always possible.
“When I put them in in the past they have never let me down.”
Attacking midfielder Mubarak, 19, said of the junior Whites’ qualification: “I think we did a good step but it’s just the first step of the qualifiers. We are ready to work more and work hard for the qualification to the Olympics in Brazil.”