Al Jazira have sensationally re-appointed Marcel Keizer as head coach less than a year after he left the club to take over at Sporting Lisbon.
He replaces fellow Dutchman Jurgen Streppel, who parted ways with the club this weekend.
The Pride of Abu Dhabi announced they reached an agreement with Keizer to return as first team head coach on a two-year contract.
“I would like to thank Jurgen for all of his commitment and work during his time with us,” said Ayed Mabkhout, CEO of Al Jazira Football Company and a member of the board. “We wish him every success in the future.
“We are delighted to announce Marcel’s return to Al Jazira FC. He is a top class coach and his understanding of the local and regional championships here will be a big advantage to us. We wish him all the very best for a successful season ahead.”
Keizer previously coached Jazira at the start of the 2018/19 season, registering five wins and four draws before moving to Portuguese giants Sporting. While there he claimed the Portuguese Cup, the Portuguese League Cup and also ensured Europa League qualification.
Al Jazira FC can confirm today it has parted company with First Team Manager Mr. Jurgen Streppel. The FC would like to thank Jurgen for all his efforts during his time with the Club pic.twitter.com/4jpIfdONje— Al Jazira Club (@AlJazira_uae_EN) October 11, 2019
And yet he was sacked by the Lisbon giants in September following an indifferent start to the campaign.
Keizer is similarly upbeat upon his return to the helm at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. “I am delighted to be back in the UAE and representing this great club,” said the 50-year-old.
“We will work hard in all competitions this season and we hope to give our fans plenty of excitement and entertainment along the way. I am looking forward to meeting up with the squad and I am excited about what we can achieve together.”
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Holders Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club’s Arabian Gulf Cup title defence was harmed on Saturday night when Al Dhafra inflicted their first defeat of this edition.
Defender Mohammed Saif got the scoring under way at Rashid Stadium when he was on hand to convert the rebound from Joao Pedro’s header just before half-time. The aforementioned Brazilian striker – who missed a 15th-minute penalty following a handball from Leonardo – then got on the score sheet himself when he headed a loose ball home, sending the Western Knights top of Group A at the expense of their hosts thanks to a memorable 2-0 victory.
In Group B, another Brazilian hit man Jhonnattann forced the only goal when Fujairah beat promoted Hatta 1-0.
The 30-year-old charged inside the penalty area in the 47th minute and lashed home. This result moved Madjid Bougherra’s men into the top two, while Hatta stay bottom.
The evening’s action was rounded off in style when Arabian Gulf League champions Sharjah thrashed 10-man Al Wasl 4-0.
Ex-UAE winger Tariq Ahmed, Hamad Jasim , Omar Jumaa and Rafael Resende netted in Group B. At the other end, Khamis Esmail was dismissed for two yellow cards.
It’s taken a coach from the Low Lands to lift UAE spirits off the floor.
A demoralising few years had followed for anyone attached to the Whites since the unexpected high of 2015’s rousing – and surprise – run to the Asian Cup’s semi-finals. Their ‘Golden Generation’ lost its sheen, and paternal figure in Mahdi Ali, along the way to missing World Cup 2018, while a second-successive third-placed finish in the Asian spectacle under the tedious Alberto Zaccheroni left few positive feelings on home soil last January.
Direction, and a renewed sense of purpose, was desperately required. On the early evidence, they’ve, belatedly, been provided by the Netherlands’ Bert van Marwijk – and in good time, with a telling trip to Thailand coming up on Tuesday.
Vigour defined a second-half display against Indonesia on Thursday from which Al Jazira predator Ali Mabkhout produced a hat-trick that sent him into the record books as his nation’s leading scorer. These goals helped earn a 5-0 win that put the UAE top of Group G with a perfect six-point haul from two second-round World Cup 2022 qualifiers.
An inability to change gear created a stultifying side throughout the 2018 process, under Ali and uninspiring ex-Argentina supremo Edgardo Bauza. This propensity to make watching paint dry a favourable pastime was moved into a new sphere during Zaccheroni’s goal-shy, 15-month tenure.
Fear of repetition under the Van Marwijk regime had arisen in last month’s unpropitious competitive opener in Malaysia. With 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman restricted to a cameo role because of long-term injury, they recovered from a 33-second concession to limp home 2-1 winners.
A brace from Mabkhout saved the day from a match low on chances and excitement.
This picture did not look much brighter against lowly Indonesia for the first 45 minutes on Thursday. A difference of 101 places in the FIFA rankings did not play out, with a youthful Whites side – the same XI that started versus Malaysia – requiring gifts to go 1-0 up through Al Wahda midfielder Khalil Ibrahim.
But then came a torrent of goals when minds conditioned to torpor expected a drab side to go through the motions.
Van Marwijk has created sparks after years of darkness. His side must now catch fire on the outskirts of Bangkok.