Olaroiu denies interest in UAE coaching job

Denzil Pinto 21/11/2016
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Cosmin Olaroiu insists any approach from the UAE Football Association would be rebuffed.

The 47-year-old has been mentioned as a possible successor to Mahdi Ali, who was non-commital on his future following the Whites’ 2-0 victory over Iraq in their 2018 World Cup qualifier last week – a result which kept them fourth – one point behind joint-leaders Saudi Arabia and Japan – and in contention for one of the two automatic berths for Russia.

But Olaroiu warned he has no desire to bring to an end his three-year Ahli tenure and insists any approach from the UAE Football Association would be rebuffed.

“I have had questions like these asked in the past few days and today it’s the same question,” the 47-year-old, who coached Saudi Arabia at the 2015 Asian Cup, said after Saturday’s 2-0 Arabian Gulf League defeat to Al Jazira.

“But like I’ve said before, I am the Al Ahli coach and I hope to win many titles with them and I will always give my best to Al Ahli. The (UAE) national team have a good coach and they have had some good results. I think they have a good chance of qualifying for the World Cup but I think people should believe in him (Ali) to do his job.”

Olaroiu’s immediate task is to guide the reigning AGL champions back to winning ways after they were deservedly beaten by Jazira.AGL

It was their first league loss in nearly a year and Olaroiu insists he faces a big task to ensure Ahli are in the hunt to retain their title.

“We lost this battle against Al Jazira and now we have more battles that we have to win,” Olaroiu said of his team, who sit five points behind AGL leaders Al Wasl, although they have a game in hand.

“We have to get through this situation but, in football, you get days like these.

“Of course this season will be tough and many teams have improved. This time, the teams will be more closer to each other and it will be a tight contest until the last round.”

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Ten Cate hopes for glory days return at Jazira

Denzil Pinto 21/11/2016
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Goals from Ali Mabkhout and Khalfan Mubarak sealed the points on Saturday for Al Jazira.

Henk Ten Cate feels Al Jazira’s 2-0 triumph over Arabian Gulf League champions Al Ahli is proof they are on the right track to becoming one of the country’s top teams once again.

Goals from Ali Mabkhout and Khalfan Mubarak sealed the points on Saturday for the Pride of Abu Dhabi, who sit second in the AGL standings and are yet to lose in seven matches so far this season.

Having taken charge last December with the club languishing in 13th position, Ten Cate has vowed to make the President’s Cup winners among the best in the UAE, and the Dutchman is pleased his players are showing their worth.

“I said before the game that I wondered where do we stand if you compare us to teams like Al Ahli and Al Ain,” he said.

“I think we are closing the gap and are getting closer. We still have to work very hard to get where we want to be but the team is on its way. We’re still trying to get more out of the team than what it is now but I’m happy with how we played.”

The 61-year-old was particularly impressed with Mabkhout, who netted for the 10th time this term.

“Hopefully all the people who have criticised Ali Mabkhout have seen today what he’s capable of,” he said. “Maybe people will believe that he’s by far the best striker in this country.”

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Al Jazira showcase title credentials

Denzil Pinto 20/11/2016
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In top form: The Pride of Abu Dhabi.

Prior to the match, Jazira coach Henk ten Cate had urged his team to prove how much they’ve progressed since he took charge last December, and they duly delivered – victory taking them to within a point of league leaders Al Wasl.

First-half strikes from Ali Mabkhout and Khalfan Mubarak were enough for the President’s Cup winners to remain unbeaten and register their fifth victory of the season – a result that condemned the Red Knights to their first loss this term and a first AGL defeat in nearly a year.

The Pride of Abu Dhabi were even reduced to 10 men following Mbark Boussoufa’s 66th minute red card, and Ten Cate had nothing but praise for his troops.

“It was a difficult game and I must say I was surprised by Ahli that they didn’t start with a high-pressure tactic but my boys worked hard and it was a deserved win,” said the Dutchman, whose side finished 29 points behind their opponents in 2015/16.

Jazira needed only 10 minutes to break the deadlock when summer arrival Ailton set up Mabkhout, whose shot deflected in off UAE colleague Abdulaziz Sanqour for his 10th league goal of the season. He then turned creator 10 minutes before the break, cleverly teeing up Mubarak, and the ever-improving youngster showed incredible poise to dink over Majed Nasser and double Jazira’s lead.

Everton Ribeiro was the most creative Ahli player, but Jazira were well-organised with Mohammed Fawzi and Joao Carlos thwarting any danger. Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu brought on Rodrigo Lima at half-time but it was Ismail Al Hammadi who came closest to reducing the deficit, heading over from Ribeiro’s free-kick.

They were given a glimmer of hope when Boussoufa received his second caution after fouling Ribeiro. Despite Ahmed Khalil’s best attempts to get Ahli back in contention, Ten Cate’s men held on for a deserved victory.

Olariou had no complaints. “It was a bad day for us, it was difficult to get a positive result,” he said. “Jazira were more aggressive and effective and deserved to win.”

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