Al Wahda have gone double Dutch and hired VVV-Venlo’s Maurice Steijn as replacement for inspirational veteran Henk ten Cate.
The Clarets had been locked in talks with the 45-year-old coach since they were unable to convince his sage countryman to delay retirement, once again, and extend an impressive five-month stint at Al Nahyan Stadium. Agreement on a one-year renewable deal has been secured, meaning he will lead new employers into the 2019 AFC Champions League’s round-of-16 in August against Saudi Professional League holders Al Nassr.
Steijn has never previously worked away from his native Netherlands. A five-year stint at VVV – which made him the Eredivisie’s longest-serving boss – culminated with a 12th-placed finish in 2018/19.
“Al Wahda Football Club Company signed with the Dutch football manager Maurice Steijn, 46-years old, for a year on a renewable contract to take over the management of the football team as successor of Henk ten Cate, the previous manager of Al Wahda,” Wahda tweeted on Sunday.
“Maurice Steijn will start his tasks of managing and preparing the first team from the end of June in the training camp until August, where the team will be preparing for the next season and the 2019 AFC Champions League’s round-of-16.
“Al Wahda Management Council wishes the best for the football team and the manager, as well as his technical and management teams.”
Steijn also came close to replacing Ten Cate, 64, at Al Jazira for 2017/18. He will soon travel to the UAE with assistant coach Jay Driessen.
The former midfielder experienced an unremarkable playing career at ADO Den Haag and NAC Breda, prior to retiring in 2001.
He was an assistant at ADO and then led them from June 2011-February 2014. He joined VVV in July 2014, gaining promotion from the Eerste Divisie in his third season at the helm.
Wahda began last term miserably under Laurentiu Reghecampf, but recovered to finish third. They also halted a 12-year absence from the ACL knockouts.
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Al Jazira have announced their first-team will travel to the Netherlands again for a summer training camp in July in preparation for the 2019-20 football season.
The squad will travel to their main base in Wageningen on 20th July, a town in the centre of the country, before moving to Oosterbeek 10 days later.
The club will play five friendly matches during the three-week camp, which will end on August 10th, before flying back to Abu Dhabi.
It is the second consecutive year that Al Jazira will tour the Netherlands. The team’s management held a number of meetings to discuss and identify potential venues and opposition for the camp. This was followed by Ahmed Al Saeed, the first-team supervisor, visiting the country to carry out an inspection of the facilities and accommodation.
The camp is expected to play an important part for Al Jazira’s stars to build on their fitness and work on tactical strategies ahead of the start of the Arabian Gulf League season.
The Boss twice survived the hosts hitting the woodwork before carving out opportunities on the break through their threatening forward Caio.
However, following the second-half dismissal of captain Mohanad Salem for two bookable offences, Juan Carlos Garrido’s side went into survival mode.
Despite enduring a frustrating evening, the Arabian Gulf League’s most prolific marksman Sebastian Tagliabue headed home in the 87th minute to hand The Clarets a vital three points which saw them vault Al Ain into third spot.
But there remains hope for the visitors as they can still secure progression to the ACL through the qualifying rounds.
Caio, playing in what is likely his final game for the club before reportedly moving to Portuguese giants Benfica, was undoubtedly the brightest spot on an otherwise dismal night for The Boss, and so he is our Roger Dubuis Al Ain Player of the Day.
63% pass accuracy
1 yellow card
The home side were in the ascendancy for much of the clash as UAE icon and Wahda skipper Ismail Mattar pulled the strings from the No10 slot.
Yet Caio was a massive threat on the counter and he was Al Ain’s obvious out ball whenever they tried to release pressure.
The Brazilian would pull out left and right to receive the ball, draw defenders in before jinking past to create openings for his team-mates.
He did have chances of his own, but none were clear cut as he struggled to make any real connection. After the dismissal, he was brought off in the 83rd minute as Garrido tried to sure things up.
Dancing feet – The humidity is obviously a massive factor at this time of the year and so the pace of the game was noticeably slow. That was unless Caio was in possession. The 25-year-old danced his way across the pitch as he searched for openings, twisting and turning to unlock little gaps and that change of pace formed the fulcrum of Al Ain’s attack.
Conviction – He did have chances and with a little more conviction, Caio could have turned what admittedly were half openings into goals. He twice slalomed his way into a little pocket of space only to then fail to get any clean connection of his strike.
Individually, Caio can take away some positives from his display but it would have been a frustrating evening from a collective point of view with not much help around him.