Comment: Al Wasl risk slipping back by sacking Calderon

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Heading for the exit door: Gabriel Calderon.

The impending official acknowledgement of Gabriel Calderon’s demise at Al Wasl will mark a sad return to form.

The Argentine paid the price on Tuesday for one outburst too many. It only ever ends one way when a coach chooses to take on his board in such a public manner, lambasting their decisions about player recruitment.

But for the Cheetahs to move on positively from this incident, lessons must be heeded. Sadly, there seems little chance of this occuring. Let us not forget, Calderon was the club’s ninth boss in two-and-a-half tumultous years when he answered an emergency call in October 2014.

This chronic instability points at wider issues.

The ex-Paris Saint-Germain midfielder performed wonders during most of his reign. In risk of relegation upon arrival, he worked diligently to bring the best out of the darting Brazilian trio of Fabio De Lima, Caio Canedo and Ederson.

After inheriting relegation battlers, a run to sixth place – featuring some of the best football in the Arabian Gulf League – during 2014/15 stood tribute to his outstanding work.

A platform had been set and the failure to convert Ederson’s loan switch into a permanent deal last summer allowed for giant target man Edgar Bruno to come in from Al Shabab. The former Porto strker provided a perfect centre point for forwards Caio and De Lima to buzz around.

A solid 24 points from the opening 15 matches with him in the squad left them well positioned in the battle to gain a play-off berth to the AFC Champions League. But his ungainly play and the fact he was dispensed with by Dubai rivals meant Edgar did not earn a place in the Wasl supporters’ affections.

The final days of the winter transfer window saw him – without Calderon’s permission – binned and miniscule playmaker Rogerinho plucked from obscurity in Kuwait as a replacement.

Never mind the club seemed poised to return to the Asia’s premier club competition for the first time since 2008 with the existing attack. The board knew better.

Rogerinho, predictably, performed miserably. His presence upset a balanced team, seeing them limp home sixth after a run of one win in their last seven league matches.

Calderon produced another post-match rant after Sunday’s final-day loss to Shabab and was sacked, despite the club insisting he is on a “two-day vacation”.

This will also be the fate of his successor unless he’s given more control. Meddling from club management critically undermined Calderon and it will damage them again.

Wasl had steadily slid down the standings before him and a return to the dark days seems nigh.

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Bani assistant aims to end poor season on a high

Matt Jones - Editor 21:29 11/05/2016
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There hasn't been much cause to celebrate for Bani Yas this season

Noureddine Obaidi believes his previous success with Al Ahli can spur Bani Yas onto glory during this year’s President’s Cup.

A season that promised much at the beginning has largely petered out into mediocrity, with the competition providing the Sky Blues with one final chance of earning some silverware.

Bani Yas finished a poor ninth in the Arabian Gulf League and failed to make the Arabian Gulf Cup knockout stages, finishing bottom of Group A with just four points.

Bani Yas assistant Obaidi led the Red Knights to Super Cup success during his one season in charge in 2009-10 and was also involved in their 2008 President’s Cup and 2008-09 league success. He wants to replicate that with the Sky Blues.

“I hope to go to the final,” said the man brought on board by Dr Abdullah Misfer in March following Luis Garcia’s dismissal.

“I have been a champion in all competitions in the UAE with Al Ahli, the President’s Cup, league, Super Cup and I hope to do the same with Bani Yas.

“When I was a champion before I felt very happy and I want to feel the same way again, I want this feeling with Bani Yas.”

Obaidi claims today’s opponents Emirates Club will pose a threat, buoyed by beating relegation.

“They are not going down a division so they can rest,” said the Moroccan.

Renan Garcia (r) and Emirates avoided relegation from the AGL

Renan Garcia (r) and Emirates avoided relegation from the AGL

“They will come in a good mood and we don’t forget that in 2010 they were relegated but they won the cup, so we know Emirates are dangerous in the cup.”

Defender Abdulsalem Mohammed will be the only player absent for Bani Yas at Al Nasr’s Al Maktoum Stadium tomorrow, while Obaidi is buoyed by the performance of youngsters and fringe players in their 3-0 defeat to Al Wahda in their final Arabian Gulf League game of the season on Sunday.

“Against Wahda the young players were good. The first team was rested and the second team played, now we can choose a lot of players against Emirates,” said Obaidi

“All the players are available, we have lots of choices. I think we can win with any team. I don’t care about what Emirates’ strengths are because I think my team, if they concentrate, can beat any team.”

Defender Thamer Mohammed could feature for the first time this season. The 31-year-old underwent knee surgery six months ago.

“We have one target, the cup. Me and the players say we need this cup,” said Mohammed, who returned to the Sky Blues last summer following stints at Al Ahli and Al Wasl.

“After a long injury I am ready. I have not played much because maybe it wasn’t a good time, but I am ready any time. I am training now and have played three matches with the Under-21’s and three friendly games. I am ready.”

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AGL review: Al Ahli, Abdulrahman & Khrbin star

A look back at the star performers of the 2015-16 AGL season.

An oversized Romanian flag draped across gargantuan shoulders and the Arabian Gulf League’s metallic shield raised high marked Cosmin Olaroiu’s return to the top seat of UAE football.

All vestiges of the uncharacteristic fallibility shown during 2014/15’s woeful defence had been blown away, this transformation made real during last Sunday’s coronation. Under the omnipotent coach’s watch, a second title in three seasons had been secured with a record 66-point tally, as well as the most-lethal attack, meanest

defence and goal difference of +40.

Only ongoing ructions about his future could take the shine away.

Vitally, the 46-year-old had been helped by the instant return on Ahli’s enormous investments. The decisions to lavish a historic €17 million (Dh71m) on forward Moussa Sow, €7m (Dh29.3m) on 11-goal striker Lima – absent since late December through injury – and the game-changing Dh60m capture of UAE defensive midfielder Khamis Esmail from fellow heavyweights Al Jazira all proved successful.

The same cannot be said for dethroned Al Ain. A mixture of miserly and misguided recruitment, combined with waiting until January to adequately replace sold talisman Asamoah Gyan, proved toxic. It is to coach Zlatko Dalic’s huge credit that he kept the race alive until last month’s decisive 1-0 loss in Dubai.

Beyond Ahli, further success stories existed. Ex-Atletico Madrid boss Javier Aguirre’s appointment catalysed Al Wahda, ending a five-year trophy drought with the Arabian Gulf Cup and earning an AFC Champions League play-off berth.

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Huge credit must also go to Al Dhafra and promoted side Dibba Al Fujairah. The mid-season arrivals of the Syrian pair of coach Mohamed Kwid and nine-goal forward Omar Khrbin saw the former go from relegation certainties to eighth, while veteran coach Theo Bucker ensured the new boys were never in true danger of an immediate return to First Division League.

The same could not be said of atrocious Al Shaab. The yo-yo club’s seven points is the lowest total
recorded in the professional era.

Hotly-tipped Al Jazira wasted fortunes on the failed return of Abel Braga. The 23 goals of UAE forward Ali Mabkhout provided a sole highlight for fallen giants.

Bani Yas’ continued faith in Luis Garcia was misguided, Al Nasr failed to build on twin cup success, Al Shabab sullied their reputation with the callous handling of coach Caio Junior’s exit and Gabriel Calderon’s crumbling association with Al Wasl ended with the sack. At the bottom, underwhelming Sharjah and Emirates Club had Fujairah’s run of seven-successive losses from January-April to thank for staying up.

A summer of change lies ahead. The opposition will hope Olaroiu’s rumoured exit is part of this.

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