No Fujairah return for Diego Maradona, says club

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Fujairah have announced they’ve ended negotiations to bring Diego Maradona back as manager, claiming he was asking for quadruple the salary from his original contract.

The 57-year-old left his position hours after the Wolves’ 1-1 draw with Khorfakkan last Friday, but then appeared to be reinstated three days later when the club announced his shock return.

However, Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla rejected Fujairah’s announcement that he was to stay on as manager.

The two parties were then locked in talks to find a resolution, but on Thursday, Fujariah announced on Twitter that the deal was over.

“After guidance from the club president, negotiations had begun with Maradona to renew his contract,” the statement read. “He indicated his agreement to renew the contract under the same rules as his current contract. He promised that he would come to training the following day and sign the contract, as confirmed by voice notes he sent to players.

“A few hours later, his lawyer stopped negotiations and asked for his contract to be quadrupled and requested that no one contact him, even through a special translator. So we announce that negotiations have ceased with Maradona and we wish him the best.”

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Ismail Ahmed challenges double-chasing Al Ain to sweep Al Wasl aside in President's Cup final

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Ismail Ahmed (r) of Al Ain will look to shut out Al Wasl again in the President's Cup final (PLC).

Al Ain captain Ismail Ahmed has challenged his imperious team-mates to continue sweeping all before them when they meet Al Wasl in the President’s Cup final.

The UAE’s most-decorated club appear set for another glorious end to the season.

They ended a near three-year wait for silverware last month with a dominant, record-extending 13th Arabian Gulf League crown – wrapped up with a game to spare. Thursday’s prestigious clash at Zayed Sports City against the Cheetahs – who are determined to end an eight-year trophy drought – is the next challenge, prior to an intense two-legged tie versus QNB Stars League champions Al Duhail to make the 2018 AFC Champions League’s quarter-finals on May 8 and 15.

“We are aiming to achieve all our goals in this season,” said 34-year-old UAE centre-back Ahmed. “After we finished the league, all our focus now is on making our fans happy in the most-prestigious tournaments [President’s Cup and AFC Champions League].

“The sense of responsibility in challenging for the title is a weapon for all the players against Al Wasl.

“Our motivation and confidence is high to win the President’s Cup, especially as this coincides with the Golden Jubilee of Al Ain and the Year of Zayed.”

In contrast, Wasl’s last trophy was the 2009/10 GCC Champions League. Prior to this, defeat to Al Ain in the 2006 President’s Cup decider was followed by a league and cup double a year later.

Fortunes and hopes have increased exponentially since June 2016’s arrival of coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena. Their second-placed finish in the 2016/17 top flight gained qualification to the ACL for the first time in a decade.

They embarrassingly lost all six Group C matches in that competition. But they went close with a 2-1 defeat to Al Wahda in the 2017/18 Arabian Gulf Cup showpiece, while they held onto third in the AGL.

This followed a drastic downturn in form. They were unbeaten leaders in the first half of the top flight, but lost five of their last 11 fixtures.

Arruabarrena, 42, paid homage to a squad possessed of “great enthusiasm and passion”, who confound incorrect tropes given to him before walking out at Zabeel Stadium.

He said: “The upcoming match against Al Ain in the final of the President’s Cup will be a very important match for the team, especially as the team is hungry to win titles and make historic achievements.

“I was told when I joined that I would find disgruntled players who did not follow the training schedule. But I found men, with great ability and who take responsibility.

“They also have great enthusiasm and passion to lead the team to the place that fits them, so I think that the players deserve to be in the final against Al Ain.”

The Cheetahs will have to do without suspended midfielder Abdullah Al Naqbi, who struck the only goal in Sunday’s 1-0 league win at Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club. Ex-Al Ain full-back Hazza Salem is injured.

For their opponents, UAE forward Ahmed Khalil is likely to drop out of the XI so Egypt midfielder Hussein El Shahat and 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman can wreak havoc.

Sweden No9 Marcus Berg’s quartet in the preceding 5-0 thrashing of Al Dhafra saw him top the AGL scoring charts with 25 goals.

“No matter how many finals I have won, even though I am the most prolific coach in Croatia, I am eager to gain more achievements with Al Ain and I hope we can win the trophy,” said coach Zoran Mamic.

In two AGL meetings this season, the sides played out an opening-day 2-2 draw in Al Ain and a 3-1 win for the visitors to Dubai.

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Bani Yas reward AGL promotion winner Goran Tufegdzic with the sack

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Coach Goran Tufegdzic with the First Division League trophy won with Bani Yas (Twitter/@BaniYasClub).

Runaway First Division League champions Bani Yas have rewarded Serbian coach Goran Tufegdzic with the sack less than a week after their coronation.

Tufegdzic, 46, took the reins when a switch to Al Shabab had to be aborted at the last-minute because of May 2017’s shock merger with Al Ahli and Dubai CSC. At his post in Abu Dhabi, the ex-Kuwait supremo oversaw a dominant campaign in which automatic promotion back to the Arabian Gulf League at the first time of asking was earned with games to spare.

Despite his effectiveness at Bani Yas Stadium, the 2010 Gulf Cup winner with Kuwait is left looking for a new employer.

“Bani Yas announces the termination of the relationship with the first-team trainer Mr Goran and his technical staff,” the Sky Blues tweeted. “This follows a full season in which Bani Yas qualified back to the Arabian Gulf League as First Division League champions.

“The football club provides many thanks to the trainer and his crew for all they have done and we wish them more success.

“In the coming days, the football club will announce the name of the new technical director of the first team after studying all the proposed names with the Technical Committee in order to reach the best choice for the future interests of the club.”

Tufegdzic had previously narrowly failed in his mid-season mission to maintain yo-yo club Ittihad Kalba’s top-flight status during 2016/17.

Promoted sides dumping their coach pre-season is a regular occurrence in the UAE.

But Ajman’s continued faith in Egypt’s Ayman Elramady was rewarded with safety for 2017/18.

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