Al Jazira only club not to breeze through 2018/19 AGL licensing

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Al Jazira faced scrutiny (PLC).

Al Jazira were the only team not to breeze through UAE Club Licensing for the expanded 2018/19 Arabian Gulf League.

The Pride of Abu Dhabi received their licence, but with a warning and a deadline to complete the requirements for financial criteria. This followed a periodic meeting of the First Instance Body of UAE Club Licensing at the Pro League Committee on Tuesday, at the UAE Football Association’s headquarters.

Off-the-field issues stained 2017/18 for Jazira, causing early contract terminations with ex-France anchorman Lassana Diarra and UAE forward Ahmed Khalil.

The body decided to grant national licences for the following teams in the expanded, 14-team top flight; Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club, Al Ain, Al Dhafra, Ajman, Al Nasr, Al Wahda, Al Wasl, Dibba Al Fujairah, Sharjah and Emirates Club.

This is in stark contrast to 2017/18’s inaugural vetting when five outfits – including giants Al Ain – required appeals to pass.

Special assessment will be conducted in June and July for the newly promoted clubs joining PLC competitions for 2018/19; Bani Yas, Ittihad Kalba and Fujairah.

Meanwhile, Dhafra’s summer recruitment drive has continued with the capture of Rio Ave forward Helder Guedes on a free transfer.

Guedes, 31, inked a one-year renewable deal. He joins coveted former Al Hilal midfielder Nicolas Milesi at the relegation strugglers from 2017/18.

Their new Portuguese signing gained global infamy last month with a woeful ‘Panenka’ penalty that caused his enraged coach to instantly substitute him.

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Zoran Mamic bemoans 'mistakes over both the games' as Al Ain crash out of ACL

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Al Ain players during Tuesday's elimination at Al Duhail in 2018 AFC Champions League.

Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic bemoaned “mistakes over both the games” as Al Duhail made them pay a heavy price in the 2018 AFC Champions League’s round of 16.

The clash of the domestic double winners turned into a landslide victory for the Qataris. Djamel Belmadi’s undefeated QNB Stars League holders scored four times in both legs against their Arabian Gulf League-winning rivals, coming away from Tuesday’s decider at Doha’s Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium with an 8-3 aggregate victory.

“If we analyse, we can see that we made mistakes over both the games,” said Mamic, whose hopes of overturning a 4-2 opening defeat swiftly evaporated.

“You need to be a top team to be able to exploit these mistakes and Al Duhail did just that.”

An own goal from UAE defender Mohamed Ahmed and Morocco centre forward Youssef El Arabi’s tap-in made it 2-0 within 30 minutes.

A pair of second-half goals from Qatar forward Ismael Mohammad and El Arabi’s second, this time from the penalty spot, guaranteed a 20th-successive win in all competitions for Duhail. 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman got a late consolation from 12 yards for the Boss.

A gracious Mamic conceded the best team had gone through.

He said: “Congratulations to Al Duhail on reaching the quarter-final; they deserve it.

“They played very good football, playing it simple and not complicating things, with one-two touches and a lot of speed.

“They have such players in the team (who are capable of that) and they used that very well. This is the formula to be successful.”

This hammering made it the first time since 2014 that no UAE side made the last-eight and denied Al Ain a third-successive quarter-final.

The Boss were denied Sweden No9 Marcus Berg because of illness and Brazilian forward Caio through suspension in Doha. But Mamic declared this was no excuse.

He said: “We missed two important players – Caio and Berg.

“We didn’t have replacements who could be of that quality. But that’s not the reason we lost the game.

“I have to repeat that Al Duhail were better than us on the day.”

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Henk ten Cate calls time on his trophy-laden Al Jazira coaching stint after ACL exit

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Al Jazira manager Henk ten Cate in Tehran.

Coach Henk ten Cate called an end to his transformative two-and-a-half-year stint at Al Jazira on Tuesday night, less than 24 hours after the painful 2018 AFC Champions League exit at Iran’s Persepolis.

Ten Cate, 63, informed his squad that he had chosen not to seek a renewal of his expiring contract mere hours since their arrival back in Abu Dhabi. This followed a trying 2017/18 stained by off-field issues, but one that still saw them come within minutes of stunning Real Madrid in December’s Club World Cup semi-finals and make the continental quarter-finals for the first time.

The ex-Barcelona and Chelsea assistant answered an emergency call in December 2015 once the hyped return of 2010/11 Arabian Gulf League title winner Abel Braga turned sour and an unlikely relegation battle began. A rapid transformation in fortunes caused the 2015/16 President’s Cup to be lifted, prior to 2016/17’s incredible second-ever top-flight title success.

Defending the latter crown proved impossible and they limped home seventh, with hyped summer additions such as ex-France anchorman Lassana Diarra swiftly terminating their deals. But Ten Cate’s popularity among the squad that remained was shown by his grateful send-off at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

“Thank you for everything you did for me and the team, we will miss you,” tweeted right-back Mohammed Fawzi. “You was like our father.

“You taught us to believe in ourselves and we can do everything – hard, easy – if we are together like a family.

“I hate to say goodbye. Just want to say good luck in your life boss, I’m proud to work with you.”

Ten Cate also turned down the Netherlands job in April 2017. He now signs off following this week’s near miss in Asia.

An 89th-minute half-volley from returning skipper Jalal Hosseini sent the 11-time Persian Gulf Pro League winners through on away goals in front of their baying, 80,000-capacity crowd at Azadi Stadium.

Brazilian forward Romarinho’s low leveller on the night on 70 minutes – soon after anchor man Ahmad Nourollahi’s thunderbolt – had seemed to be enough for Jazira.

Promising defenders Khalifa Al Hammadi, 19, and Mohammed Al Attas, 20, both performed admirably in Tehran – and throughout this term.

The promotion of these youngsters, plus emerging UAE midfielder Mohammed Jamal, will be Ten Cate’s lasting legacy in Abu Dhabi.

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