Al Ain have identified King’s Cup winning Al Taawoun coach Pedro Emanuel as the man to revitalise the UAE’s most-decorated club and have made an offer worth more than €5 million to land him, according to reports.
Emanuel, 44, was crowned the Saudi Professional League’s Coach of the Year on Saturday night after an incredible debut campaign that included a remarkable third-placed finish and gaining of the grandest prize in his employer’s 63-year history. Such exploits have gone unnoticed, elsewhere.
O Jogo has stated the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League winner with Porto has informed Taawoun he will not extend a one-year contract that expires next month. Al Ain have proposed a deal worth €5.3m for two seasons that the ex-defender is seriously considering.
The Boss have imploded in the second half of 2018/19, ceding their Arabian Gulf League crown to Sharjah and looking destined to finish a distant third. Ex-Villarreal tactician Juan Carlos Garrido has endured mixed results since he replaced Al Hilal defector Zoran Mamic in January and is not expected to stay beyond next Saturday’s final match at Al Wahda.
Round 25 of the 2018/19 Arabian Gulf League delivered several stellar displays, at both ends of the table.
Brazilian playmaker Igor Coronado was decisive as long-term leaders Sharjah finally got their hands on the title. At the bottom, Dibba Al Fujairah gave themselves a fresh shot at a final-day salvage job with a spirited 3-1 victory against Ittihad Kalba.
Here are Sport360’°s top picks and a talking point:
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Igor Coronado (Sharjah)
So often during a revelatory 2018/19, Sharjah have looked to their €6 million Brazilian playmaker for inspiration.
On almost every occasion, the summer buy from Palermo has answered the call. This was the case again on Thursday when his two goals helped secure the 3-2 victory against Al Wahda that secured a first title in 23 years. What a player.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
Mohamed Al Akbari (Al Nasr)
Light at the end of the tunnel, for Nasr and their promising forward.
Injury, off-field worries about brother Ahmed and his new club’s wretched campaign have tempered the output of a bright prospect.
But a 3-0 win at Fujairah was lit up by his dummy, searching run and delightful volley from Spanish star Alvaro Negredo’s deft chip. Some goal.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Mohamed Al Khaddeim (Dibba Al Fujairah)
The great escape is still on for minnows Dibba Al Fujairah.
The Fishermen have spent the vast majority of 2018/19 moored to the bottom of the table. Their 3-1, come-from-behind win at Ittihad Kalba, however, has provided much-needed hope.
Caretaker Al Khaddeim must now beat Bani Yas in Saturday’s final game – and wish for the best.
Who can reclaim the crown?
Sharjah emerged from nowhere to roar towards merited success.
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club, however, have responded with 12 wins from their last 13 games. With a substantial summer budget expected, watch them rise further.
At Al Ain, coach Pedro Emanuel is poised to be poached from Saudi Arabia upstarts Al Taawoun ahead of a full summer refit. This represents a promising start.
Sharjah’s challenge should be answered. Intrigue awaits for 2019/20.
Sublime Sharjah playmaker Igor Coronado declared “a lot of questions” posed after last July’s bold decision to quit Italian football have been emphatically answered by ample Arabian Gulf League glory.
Coronado, 26, came away with the prestigious ‘The Golden Ball – Best Foreign Player’ gong from Friday night’s 2018/19 AGL Awards thanks to his pivotal role in his new club’s shock first top-flight triumph in 23 years. The Brazilian’s 17 goals and nine assists provided an instant return on the €6 million fee paid to – then – Serie B outfit Palermo.
A memorable event for the King at Madinat Jumeirah was added to when Abdulaziz Al Anbari was named ‘The Leader – Best Coach’ and Adel Al Hosani selected as ‘Golden Glove – Best Goalkeeper’. Elsewhere, Al Jazira conductor Khalfan Mubarak was chosen as ‘The Golden Ball – Best Emirati Player’ and Al Wasl prospect Ali Saleh took home the ‘Golden Boy – Best Young Player’ prize.
For Coronado, these achievements justify saying ‘arrivederci’ to the European game.
He said: “It was not easy. There was a lot of questions asked for me when I came here.
“Taking the league and have this [AGL Award] in my hand now… I think it answers all the questions, why was the reason I came here.
“Now, we just have to enjoy this moment.
“I am very happy to win this right now. I put in a lot of work during the year.”
Coronado has taken a long and winding route to the UAE.
A career that began with Milton Keynes Dons has also included stints in Switzerland with Grasshoppers’ reserves, a spell in the English seventh tier with Banbury United, breakthrough with Malta’s Floriana and then Serie C’s Trapani.
Could another move up the football food chain be in the reckoning? It didn’t sound like it in Dubai.
“Yes, yes yes,” Coronado replied when asked if he was staying. “I have three years [remaining on his contract] with Sharjah.”
The mastermind behind a golden 2018/19 was Al Anbari. The 41-year-old club stalwart’s efforts were exalted by Coronado.
“He was great, really good,” said the attacker. “Especially towards the end, I really appreciated how he dealt with the difficult situation.
“He was a great manager throughout the year – with the locals and the foreigners. Everyone was treated the same.
“It was really nice working with the coaching staff.”