Crisis club Al Jazira’s pursuit of a new coach is at an end after former Al Ahli supremo Henk ten Cate arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night to seal his appointment.
Ten Cate, 61, became a target for the fallen heavyweights once negotiations with previous first choice and fellow Dutchman Fred Rutten fell through.
The experienced ex-Barcelona and Chelsea assistant will be expected to drastically improve upon a dismal 2015-16, which saw returning hero Abel Braga sacked after six awful months.
Jazira were hotly tipped for the Arabian Gulf League crown, but currently sit 10th after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at relegation-threatened Al Dhafra. Under-21s coach Ali Al Junaibi has been in charge for their last three matches in all competitions.
— Ahdaaf (@ahdaafme) December 27, 2015
With 10 days until their next top-flight match at Al Wasl, this would leave plenty of time for Ten Cate to prepare his troops. Ten Cate – who would be Jazira’s eighth coach in four tumultuous years – endured a disastrous onemonth spell in charge of Ahli in his previous posting in the UAE. He quit the Dubai club in March 2010 after a 5-0 thrashing by Qatar’s Al Sadd in the AFC Champions League.
Success also aluded him in the Qatar Stars League at Umm Salal from April 2010-February 2011. He then successfully battled relegation from the Chinese Super League with Shandong Luneng in 2012.
His last post saw him narrowly miss out on promotion to the Eredivisie as caretaker at Sparta Rotterdam, losing 2-1 in a play-off against Roda JC.
Ten Cate earned a sterling reputation under Frank Rijkaard at Barca from 2003-06, leaving for the top job at Ajax after he helped claim the 2005-06 La Liga and UEFA Champions League double with the Catalan club. He missed out on the 2006-07 Eredivisie title by a single goal in goal difference, later departing for the No. 2 role at Chelsea in October 2007.
There is familiar company for him in his latest post, countryman Peter Hamberg recently brought in as assistant coach by newly-installed director of football Gianluca Nani.
Promoted Dibba Al Fujairah’s strong Arabian Gulf league form continued as they came away from the trip to 10-man Sharjah with a resounding 4-1 triumph.
Theo Bucker’s troops made it four wins from their last five top-flight matches as Bakary Kone and Boris Kabi struck penalties during an action-packed second half, adding to efforts from Tareq Ahmed and Ali Mohamed.
A miserable night for the hosts saw UAE U-23 full-back Abdulla Ghanim sent off and striker Wanderley fire home a late consolation for his sixth goal of the campaign.
After a goalless opening period, the match at Sharjah Stadium exploded into life as Ahmed shot into the corner. Kone and Kabi then converted from 12 yards to make it 3-0, Ghanim being sent off for dissent in the process.
It was four as Mohammed headed in Kone’s cross, before Wanderley tapped in a ricochet at the death.
Meanwhile, Al Dhafra moved out of the relegation zone as Makhete Diop’s penalty inflicted more misery on managerless heavyweights Al Jazira.
This saw the revival under new coach Mohammed Kwid continue at Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Stadium, as he oversaw an invaluable second-successive victory.
Veteran midfielder Abdulrahim Juma opened the scoring against his former club on 21 minutes, with a low cross-shot. It was soon all square, Brazil playmaker Thiago Neves emphatically rocketing in a penalty.
The goals were then all wrapped up before the break, prolific striker Makhete Diop being fouled and stepping up to convert from the spot to send the Western Knights up to 12th.
Youngster Mohamed Al Khoory showed there is unbeknown talent in the Al Ahli ranks, lighting up a 4-1 win at Al Shaab which heaped more misery on the forlorn hosts.
The 22-year-old summer signing from Al Dhafra outshone even striker Lima – who netted his 19th goal in 24 appearances – and record-buy Moussa Sow – who also struck – in his 57 minutes on the pitch, as the title-chasing Red Knights returned to winning ways in the Arabian Gulf League.
The miniscule winger cut inside on 50 minutes to calmly dispatch the second from a perfect lofted ball from UAE midfielder Habib Fardan, before hitting the afterburners to tee up Sow for a tap-in seconds later.
As expected, the bottom-placed hosts offered negligible resistance. Boss Walter Zenga saw his team go behind in under three minutes, winger Abdulla Eissa dismissed for a snide kick at Brazil playmaker Everton Ribeiro before the interval and concede two more goals in quick-fire succession during a tepid second half.
The Italian’s caused was not helped by his depleted foreign quarter, only Michel N'Dri fit enough for a spot on the bench. The promoted club reach the halfway stage in the top flight cast adrift and in need of a miracle, with no wins recorded and a gaping 10-point gap to safety.
Amateur defending from Commandos skipper Mansour Albaloushi as he went underneath a Ribeiro cross allowed Lima to swivel and fire home unopposed to give Ahli the perfect start after last Sunday’s shock 1-0 reversal at Bani Yas.
— Matt Monaghan (@mattmonaghan360) December 26, 2015
Little of note followed before a late swipe from Eissa on the aforementioned Brazil playmaker saw him dismissed on 39 minutes.
A dreary second period saw Al Khoory burst into life upon the restart. He steadied himself prior to slotting home from Fardan’s assist and then allowed €17 million (Dh81m) man Sow to prod home just his third goal in 15 underwhelming appearances since his switch from Fenerbahce.
2015 AFC Player of the Year Ahmed Khalil then emerged from the bench to rocket in from an acute angle for his first goal in 10 games, while winger Maher Jassim’s injury-time consolation from an equally-tight spot could not stop Ahli moving up to second.