Cosmin Olaroiu says he cannot guarantee either his or star playmaker Everton Ribeiro’s future beyond the end of the season.
Al Ahli extended the Arabian Gulf League title race into another round of fixtures after brilliant Brazilian Ribeiro’s late goal in a 2-1 win at Al Wahda on Saturday, although Olaroiu is resigned to losing the AGL title with the Pride of Abu Dhabi requiring just one more point from their remaining three games.
The Red Knights claimed the Arabian Gulf Cup title a few weeks ago, but they have been second best to Jazira in the league, while they were beaten by Olaroiu’s old team Al Ain in the President’s Cup quarter-finals.
And even though the Romanian is under contract at Rashid Stadium for another year, Olaroiu is unsure as to whether the powers that be at the club will want to keep him around if they deem themselves unsatisfied with the 2016/17 campaign.
“It is a question I cannot answer in this moment,” Olaroiu answered when asked about his future after the Wahda game.
“I still have a contract with Al Ahli for one more year, but anything can happen. Maybe they (the club) are not satisfied with my performance and they kick me out. This is the life of the coach. I cannot tell you what will happen after one month.”
Ribeiro’s future is also something that has been up for debate in recent weeks, after Olaroiu admitted earlier this month an offer had been received for the 28-year-old – who has 16 goals and 16 assists in 57 AGL games since his February 2015 arrival from Cruzeiro.
And Olaroiu seemed to suggest that Ribeiro would be allowed to leave the club, but only if a suitable replacement is found.
“If somebody’s not happy where he is or has an offer to be in a better place it’s better to let them go and we’ll see if we have options to replace,” he said.
“Always we have to see what we can bring to release a player like Ribeiro. It is too early to talk about this but in any circumstance every time the player comes, the player goes, or the coach comes, the coach goes.”
Henk ten Cate got what he wished for. Following Ah Ahli’s 2-1 win against Al Wahda on Saturday night, Al Jazira have the chance to lift the Arabian Gulf League title on their own terms when they face Hatta at the end of the month.
The Pride of Abu Dhabi could have become AGL champions had Ahli failed to beat Abu Dhabi rivals Wahda in the capital, 24 hours after they had trounced Al Shabab 3-0.
And Balazs Dzsudzsak’s equaliser with 15 minutes to go meant it was heading that way, until Everton Ribeiro’s late winner.
Most coaches may have wished for the title to have been won at the earliest opportunity. But not Ten Cate. With the way his team have performed this season, he feels they deserve to win the title their own way, without help from anyone else.
“I think we should do it on our own terms and the players deserve a nice match and a celebration, in an official match where you get the championship,” the Dutchman said after his side cruised to a 19th win in 23 league games on Friday night and took one more step towards lkifting a first AGL title since 2010/11.
“To be honest I would not like to be a champion tomorrow (Saturday). I hope a lot of fans will travel with us to Hatta, I hope the club arranges something for the fans to celebrate with us.
“This is what this team deserves, not to become a champion anonymously, the next day, when you have played already. You hear at night Ahli did not win so you are champion.
“This is something we have to do together, to celebrate together. I hope we win in a real game. Maybe the players think differently but this is my desire.”
Although Jazira still have to get across the finish line, with a point likely to be and a win definitely good enough from their remaining three matches, Ten Cate is already looking to the future, and improving his squad.
It is a small squad that Ten Cate deemed not large enough or possessing enough quality to launch a sustained bid for AFC Champions League success, which is why he has prioritised the league in recent months.
But success on the continent is something he will take more seriously next year.
“I’m thinking, in the near future, is the next game, which will be Lekhwiya but of course we have conversations about how to improve the team, to get better, to get better players, which is very important,” added Ten Cate, the former Chelsea and Barcelona assistant.
“Of course we can do better and we have to improve our squad next year. This is something we are talking about. We play with a lot of players from our academy and not so many teams can do this.
“If you win the championship, we will play in the Champions League again and the Club World Cup. We have a figure and we want to show the world what we are capable of but we need more than we have this year.
“People are working on it but we have to wait and see. I can only give suggestions, they will think about it and if it’s possible we will maybe do it, but this is not up to me, it’s up to the club.”
Cosmin Olaroiu claims he is “200 per cent” committed to Al Ahli in the face of continued speculation surrounding his future.
The 47-year-old was not named on a four-man shortlist for the vacant UAE coaching job on Wednesday, having initially ruled himself out of the running to replace Mahdi Ali, while he has also been linked with taking over his native Romania.
Olaroiu’s contract with the Red Knights expires next year and he insists he is focused on the fight to retain their Arabian Gulf League crown, ?? which could be surrendered as early as today if they fail to beat Al Wahda following Al Jazira’s ?-? win against Al Shabab last night. ??
“I think I’ve already left Al Ahli for two teams having completed negotiations with clubs in the region judging by the rumours that go out every day,” Olaroiu said, tongue in cheek, at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“I am currently located in Al Ahli, where I have lasted for a long time, I am with my Al Ahli family and I plan to win and give 200 per cent under all circumstances.
“I have a commitment to the players and the team to offer everything I have and I also have an obligation to the fans to give all I have.”
Olaroiu confirmed former Al Ain striker Asamoah Gyan is unavailable for the trip to Abu Dhabi today through injury, while he also speculated that UAE striker Ahmed Khalil could miss out after picking up a slight injury in Tuesday’s 3-1 win at Saudi Arabia’s Al Taawon in the AFC Champions League.
Red Knights centre back Mohammed Jaber has “demanded” 12 points from his team-mates from Ahli’s final four league games if they are to stand any hope of retaining their AGL crown.
“We have to reap 12 points from the rest of the league games,” said the ex-Bani Yas defender.
“It will certainly be a tough match, but we are demanding we win every game we play. The season is not over yet and we have to win all four games and wait for the outcome of the rest of the games. We compete for the league until the last moment.”
Ahli face a tricky trip to the capital today, with the Clarets on a run of four straight league wins.
Javier Aguirre revealed he will rotate his team with an eye on next Wednesday’s crucial President’s Cup semi-final tie against Sharjah, although he added his team will fight for victory against today’s visitors to Al Nahyan stadium without the thought of looking to do their cross-town rivals Jazira a favour by beating Ahli.
“I will give some players rest in order to equip them well for the important match in the semi-finals of the President’s Cup against Sharjah on Wednesday,” said the Mexican.
“This will lead to some modifications to the squad that played against Al Hilal in the AFC Champions League (on Monday).
“Over the past few weeks in various competitions we have rotated between different players, according to the absences facing the team, whether injuries or suspensions, which have given the opportunity for all players to participate.”
And the former Atletico Madrid chief is keen to maintain his side’s good league run going, adding: “We seek to win after four consecutive league victories, and I am focused on my team without looking at the possibility of resolving the league title for the benefit of Al Jazira.
“The league title is not settled through 90 minutes, it is a product of work throughout the season.”