Transforming the “negative image” of floundering Al Wahda is the No1 task outlined by new boss Manolo Jimenez ahead of Thursday’s Arabian Gulf League debut at upwardly mobile Ajman.
Former Sevilla, AEK Athens and Al Rayyan coach Jimenez, 55, was hired last week to correct an awful start to 2019/20 under Maurice Steijn. The Dutchman oversaw two defeats from three top-flight matches and a round-of-16 AFC Champions League exit in just three months at the helm.
A 3-1 defeat to fellow strugglers Al Nasr, however, after the international break under caretaker Luc Nijholt has ensured the ex-Spain full-back has inherited a side – who finished third in 2018/19 – down in 11th. This fraught state of mind could be exposed again versus an Orange Brigade six places and four points better off than them at Ajman Stadium.
“The challenge is great and the task will not be easy to correct the path, changing the negative image of the team,” said Jimenez. “We will require the efforts of everyone to win every game.
“The match against Ajman is an important one. They will not be an easy opponent at all, especially since the team has a distinct combination of national players and foreign professionals.
“But Wahda are required to win more than any prior period, because the win will be an incentive for the players into the next games.”
Champions Sharjah will be taking nothing for granted when they travel to promoted Hatta.
The King are the only side left with a 100-per-cent record after the previous round’s 5-1 humbling of Al Wasl.
“We must forget our big win over Al Wasl and think about only the Hatta match,” said UAE left-back Al Hassan Saleh. “Hatta is very motivated to prove their merit and we will treat them with respect.”
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