Cosmin Olaroiu has talent and desire to dispel myth Gulf is the graveyard of ambition

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On the move: Cosmin Olaroiu has departed Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club (Twitter).

Even a man as belligerent and steeped in success as Cosmin Olaroiu has a breaking point.

The Arabian Gulf League found out where this was at the weekend, a seventh-successive draw in all competitions seeing Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club and their respected Romanian – officially, at least – agreeing a release by “mutual consent” after four years of unprecedented success together.

This has left a cavernous gap in UAE domestic football, an arena he has pugnaciously dominated since Al Ain recruited him six years ago. The region’s foremost club coach has delivered 10 trophies and historic defeat in the 2015 AFC Champions League during his time within these borders, this figure being boosted to an unfathomable 14 when you add in the successes enjoyed at Qatar’s Al Sadd and Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal since departing his native land a decade ago.

The question now is what comes next? Curing an ongoing – and painful – back condition will be foremost on the 48-year-old’s list of priorities, but a quick return to work is a must for this coaching behemoth no matter his wide-ranging interests and investments away from the beautiful game.

For the good of Middle East football and for his own sense of professional pride, his next step must be a return – and hopefully a glorious one – to Europe. This would add to the weight of evidence that Asian football only offers a dead-end move for the unambitious.

Olaroiu has the ability, influence, tactical acumen and rampant desire to excel anywhere. Now is the time for the 2005/06 UEFA Cup semi-finalist with Steaua Bucharest to put this statement to the test on the old continent.

Offers, surely of a lucrative nature to match the reputed €6.5 million (Dh28.4m) per year arrangement with Shabab Al Ahli, will flood in from across the Arabian Gulf. He appears a natural fit at Al Jazira if the champions’ struggles under Henk ten Cate continue, while he remains a prized candidate in Saudi no matter his controversial and forced departure from Hilal or troubled loan spell with the national side at the 2015 Asian Cup.

No matter the figures on offer, a polite ‘no’ should follow.

Leading his native Romania remains a pipe dream for Olaroiu after Cosmin Contra recently pipped him to the post. But his force of personality would be perfect to rouse fallen Scottish giants Rangers and provide the antidote to their failed Qatari experiment with Pedro Caixinha.

If Bundesliga basement boys Cologne are looking for an instant uplift, they should look no further.

Of Olaroiu’s recent AGL alumni, Zlatko Dalic has parlayed steady success at Al Ain into leading Luka Modric and his fellow Croatia superstars at next summer’s World Cup.

Even erratic journeyman Walter Zenga was given a shot at ambitious Championship-outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers last term.

A failure to navigate the tricky waters caused by May’s shock merger at Rashid Stadium and ongoing withdrawal of investment should not count against Olaroiu replicating these moves.

Given the chance, he will top them all.

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Ali gets six-month shot at Shabab Al Ahli to show enduring worth

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Back to business: Mahdi Ali is returning to the dugout with Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club (Getty).

Ex-UAE boss Mahdi Ali has been handed a six-month window to rehabilitate his reputation at Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club, or be shown the exit door.

The Arabian Gulf League was rocked to its core late on Saturday night when Cosmin Olaroiu’s trophy-laden four-year spell at Rashid Stadium was brought to a premature end by “mutual consent” a day after a sixth-successive stalemate was recorded in the top flight, and seventh overall, against lowly Al Dhafra. The man widely considered the Middle East’s greatest head coach had entered the final year of a monster contract reputedly worth €6.5 million (Dh28.4m) per annum.

This has provided an opportunity for Ali, 52, to return to management for the first time since he ended a revolutionary near half-a-decade spell in charges of the Whites last March with their World Cup 2018 dreams in tatters. The former Al Ahli midfielder and tactician was favoured by the merged club’s board because of his willingness to ink terms until the end of the season, with other options requesting a two-and-a-half-year stay.

“The board stressed the great trust it attaches to coach Mahdi Ali and his ability to modify the team’s course in the league after the results went down,” a Shabab Al Ahli statement read.

”His ability as a competent coach and previous record of success makes him the best option at this stage.”

‘Captain Mahdi’ inherits a squad containing 12 Emiratis who earned international caps under him, yet he must immediately correct the team’s tailspin.

In private, Shabab Al Ahli officials believed Olaroiu had stopped connecting with his squad and a forced intervention, no matter the official “mutual consent” line, was required.

Their draining run of draws sees them down in fifth and seven points behind joint-leaders Al Wasl, whom they next meet on Friday.

A soaring reputation had been earned by his paternal early care of the ‘Golden Generation’. He nurtured future AFC Players of the Year in Al Jazira forward Ahmed Khalil and Al Ain superstar Omar Abdulrahman when working for various youth national sides, further driving them on to participation in the London 2012 Olympics, victory at the 2013 Gulf Cup and a staggering third place at the 2015 Asian Cup.

Yet the qualified electrical engineer’s outmoded tactics and stale selections created a torturous Road to Russia. Ali resigned during March’s post-match press conference after a 2-0 loss to Australia left his nation well off the pace in the third-and-final qualifying round.

He has only previously dabbled in club management.

A short-term stint at Ahli – for whom he won the 1988 and 1996 President’s Cups as a player  – ended swiftly after an embarrassing early exit on home soil to part-timers Auckland City in November 2009’s Club World Cup. He then held on to Bani Yas’ second place in the 2010/11 AGL when drafted in on loan from the UAE Under-23s that April.

Arabic media reported last week that Ali had made the three-man shortlist to become the next leader of World Cup qualifiers Saudi Arabia. Argentina’s Juan Antonio Pizzi beat him to the role.

His weekend ascension signalled the end of a historic era under Olaroiu.

All the rancour from his controversial July 2013 poaching from Al Ain was forgotten in the wake of a groundbreaking run to defeat in the 2015 AFC Champions League final and the sweeping up of seven major pieces of silverware.

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Jazira show champion spirit to draw at Al Ain as Berg, Mabkhout star

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Ice cold Berg: Marcus Berg (l) scored twice for Al Ain in the win against Al Jazira (PLC).

Depleted champions Al Jazira battled back to stun Al Ain in a gripping latest instalment of ‘Al Clasico’, highlighted by the shootout between apex predators Ali Mabkhout and Marcus Berg.

The aforementioned summer buy from Panathinaikos moved onto six goals in seven productive Arabian Gulf League-run-outs within 20 minutes. Yet these strikes, at the same time speculation about iconic fellow Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s World Cup 2018-aspirations cranked up a gear thanks to his return for Manchester United after seven months out, could not quell game visitors for whom Mabkhout ruthlessly capitalised on errors just before the whistle in both halves to earn an uplifting share of the spoils.

The broken Boss will point to a loss of control catalysed by injury to rebounding centre midfielder Amer Abdulrahman before the half-hour mark. Yet in the absence of celebrated opposite numbers Mbark Boussoufa of Morocco and Lassana Diarra of France, they should have had enough to gain a first derby win in five top-flight outings.

Berg, himself, was guilty of two later wild misses as the match ball slipped from his grasp.

Jazira’s result brought a shot of confidence three weeks out from the FIFA Club World Cup on home soil. Worries about a 10-point gap to now sole leaders Al Wasl can wait.

In the opposite camp, coach Zoran Mamic must immediately lift deflated troops after slips from Caio and teenager Saeed Juma.

Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club finally broke their three-match scoreless streak but could only record a disappointing 1-1 draw with Dibba Al Fujairah.

Senegal hit man Makhete Diop responded from close range early in the second half to Ahmed Ibrahim’s shock opener.

Al Wahda’s attackers all struck as they thrashed Emirates Club 4-1.

Mohammad Malalla’s own goal got things started, with Sebastian Tagliabue, Balazs Dzsudzsak and Mourad Batna forcing the others.

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