Zoran Mamic officially signs one-year Al Ain extension despite off-field issues

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Set to stay: Zoran Mamic

Ceaseless Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic has vowed to improve on 2017/18’s historic double after a one-year contract extension was announced on Tuesday, despite ongoing off-field issues in Croatia.

Mamic, 46, delivered both the Arabian Gulf League and President’s Cup last term – an achievement that had previously eluded the UAE’s most-decorated club.

This success came amid a high-profile and lengthy corruption investigation in his homeland that saw him handed a four-years-and-11-months prison sentence last week for his role in a multi-million-euro abuse of power while at Dinamo Zagreb. Mamic had two spells there as a player, plus won three-successive Croatian First League crowns as head coach from 2013-16.

Mamic, along with his brother Zdravko – who was executive director – plus a group of other officials, has vehemently protested his innocence and issued plans to lodge an appeal.

“I am very happy to continue with the team and would like to reiterate my thanks and appreciation to Al Ain for that confidence,” said the Garden City tactician, who was poached from Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in February 2017. “I promise everyone to show my best in the next season, which will feature great challenges.

“Our goal in the new season is to be better than last season. We are working to develop our capabilities and strengthen our capabilities in a way that enables us to emerge as the victor in all challenges.

“Our main goal is to offer an exceptional season, that concludes with great achievements that will delight the supporters.

Further movement is also expected about the expired deals of superstar playmaker Omar Abdulrahman, fellow AFC Player of the Year winner Ahmed Khalil and UAE veteran centre-back Ismail Ahmed.

The trio’s contracts expired this month, making them highly desirable free agents. This has also opened up fresh talk about Amoory making the long-debated move to Europe.

But Al Ain insisted discussions are ongoing with the players and their decision to allow the lapses was based on working out how to best fit them into the UAE Football Association’s stringent new salary cap.

A club statement read: “Al Ain stresses its keenness to continue with the team’s stars after the official announcement of new offers to extend the contract with the players.

“Their contracts were ended because of the desire of the club to maintain its players in line with the salary cap and in a manner that does not contradict with the rules and the decision issued by the authority responsible [UAE Football Association].

“Al Ain will also like to point out that the report of coach Zoran Mamic included the identification of some Emirati players and the club has started negotiations with them to strengthen the team.”

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