Al Jazira coach Damien Hertog wants to repay trust by ensuring club remain competitive

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Newly-appointed Al Jazira head coach Damien Hertog wants to repay the trust of the board by ensuring the club remain competitive on the pitch this season.

Hertog, 44, officially signed a contract with the Pride of Abu Dhabi this month until the end of the season after impressing as interim coach – having taken over from Marcel Keizer last month after his fellow Dutchman left to take over at Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon.

Friday’s 2-0 victory over Al Dhafra in the Arabian Gulf Cup, which sealed a place in the quarter-finals, was Hertog’s fourth victory in his six matches in charge after taking over from Keizer.

“I am delighted to be named as head coach for Al Jazira Football Club,” said Hertog.

“It is the first time in the history of the club that they have appointed an assistant coach as their head coach and I am very honoured to have this position. The board members of the club have a lot of trust in me and I want to give that trust back to them.”

Jazira are among the league leaders in the AGL this term, sitting joint second.

Jazira are among the league leaders in the AGL this term, sitting joint second.

Hertog, a former midfielder, enjoyed a 14-year playing career with various clubs in his native Netherlands, including SBV Excelsior and De Graafschap.

After retiring in 2008, Hertog worked with Feyenoord’s Under-19 side between 2010 and 2017 before serving as an assistant for Cypriot First Division outfit APOEL FC for three months until August 2017. He then continued his coaching career at Jazira as an assistant when he arrived in the summer.

Hertog will aim to continue Jazira’s impressive start to the season where they sit joint-second in the Arabian Gulf League with eight wins.

“The most important thing is that we keep on playing like how we started the season,” added Hertog.

“We worked on a playing style together and we want to maintain that, but we need to improve our game as well.

“That was creating a lot of chances, dominating games, playing football from behind and people enjoyed it and so did the players. We think in this way of playing, which is not easy, but it gives us the best chances of success and results and this is the main thing.”

Hertog also revealed a longer-term strategy is to develop the players and team to continue the drive towards building a sustainable club.

He added: “Al Jazira is a big club which has won the league and President’s Cup in previous years. The results are very important, but the main focus is to keep improving, developing players and building the club.

“The ambition of the club is to be world-class, not just for one year, but sustainable for several years.”

This weekend’s Arabian Gulf Cup quarter-final will be Jazira’s last match of the month before the season resumes in February after the AFC Asian Cup in the Emirates.

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