Al Nasr rubbish reports that Lille’s Herve Renard is set for the hotseat

Matt Jones 18/12/2015
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Not going nowhere: Ivan Jovanovic.

Al Nasr have moved to silence a bizarre rumour in the French media that former Lille manager Herve Renard is set to replace Ivan Jovanovic as head coach.

The former Ivory Coast national team boss was dismissed by the Ligue 1 strugglers last month and was reported by Le 10 Sport yesterday to be holding talks with the Blue Wave, who have been riding high under Serb Jovanovic since he took charge in June 2013.

The 53-year-old led Nasr to a treble of Gulf Club Champions Cup, President’s Cup and Arabian Gulf Cup success last season, while the team sit third in the Arabian Gulf League, three points behind second-placed Al Ahli and seven adrift of leaders Al Ain.

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“Al Nasr Club denies news issued in some social networking sites about the club negotiating with French coach Herve Renard or any another coach,” a club statement issued on Friday read.

“The club were surprised by these rumors on social networking sites and some sports sites that referred to a contract being discussed between Al Nasr and a new coach at this important time of the season.

“The club urges everyone to investigate the credibility of the news and take the correct sources and not be deceived by these 
rumors that aim to reduce the value of stability and achievements Ivan Jovanovic has achieved with the club in recent periods.”

Jovanovic himself was only focused on Saturday’s game with struggling Al Shaab at Rashid Al-Maktoum Stadium today when speaking at a pre-game press conference on Thursday.

“Always when we meet a team struggling for survival we must have respect for the opponent when searching for the three points,” said Jovanovic, 

“Always we hear that the game is simple, but this is a mistake. 

“It is a very important game to us and we are preparing well in order to collect the three points in the game.

Emirati forward Salem Saleh said he and his team-mates are focused on the three points.

“The coach asks us in all games specific instructions and everyone seeks to comply with what the coach says in order to collect the three points.”

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Valdivia eager to step up for Al Wahda

Matt Jones 18/12/2015
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Jorge Valdivia (l) moved to Al Wahda from Palmeiras in August but has struggled so far.

Chile’s Copa America star Jorge Valdivia has promised Al Wahda fans there is more to come from him following a stuttering start to his second stint in the UAE.

The 32-year-old playmaker has dazzled in spells at Al Nahyan Stadium since arriving in the summer, but a muscle strain and two long-haul trips to South America to play 2018 World Cup qualifiers for his national team have curtailed his impact.

Valdivia was simply stunning as Wahda inflicted reigning Arabian Gulf League champions and current league leaders Al Ain’s only 

defeat of the season thus far at the end of September.

Despite a virtuoso display against his former side, a 2-1 win which included a brilliant assist for Sebastian Tagliabue’s winning goal, Valdivia’s talent has been flaunted all too fleetingly since his protracted move from Brazil’s Palmeiras was completed in August.

“I hope to reach the level expected of me and reach the level I was playing at in the Copa America,” the 73-times capped Valdivia said ahead of today’s league match at home to Sharjah.

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“That’s what I am trying to do, to be ready physically to play the full 90 minutes, especially as in the last game I participated for half an hour only. 

“I was feeling some muscle pain because of travelling with the national team and I want to be at my best level to help the team.

“I went a full month without playing a match (for Wahda) and I have been travelling for long periods, so of course, that will affect the level of any player.”

Striker Sebastian Tagliabue sits atop the AGL scoring charts with 12 goals, yet the Clarets are only sixth following five wins and five defeats.

New Sharjah coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari, says he is counting on his players’ fighting spirit to help them stave off relegation.

“I still consider myself new to this team, things have changed for me and for the players, and we are trying to change the system completely and this needs time to adapt,” said Al Anbari.

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Luis Garcia calls for more from his Bani Yas side after Cup exit

Matt Jones 17/12/2015
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Poor showing: Luis Garcia's side.

Bani Yas head coach Luis Garcia says his team have to work harder after the Sky Blues finished their miserable Arabian Gulf Cup campaign off with a 2-0 defeat at lowly Al Shaab.

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The loss means the Sky Blues sunk to the bottom of Group A, with the win moving Al Shaab above Garcia’s men.

The Spaniard has urged his players to double the efforts for their next league match, although that will be easier said than done with Bani Yas hosting second-placed Al Ahli, who have lost only one domestic game all season, on Sunday.

“I repeat again that we still have to work harder and prepare for our next match against Al Ahli. We have to double our efforts to get back to our real level of professionalism which we started this season with,” said Garcia.

After an encouraging start to the season, Garcia’s side are now winless in their last six matches and have won just twice in their last 11 games.

“I may be the most upset person because of this negative result,” added Garcia, who feels that luck is deserting his team. “Everybody knows this is not an important match at all, but my concern is that we couldn’t get out from the bad luck we are having.

“You see Bani Yas did everything except score, whereas Al Shaab made two goals out of two opportunities.”

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