Croatia coaching job not on my radar – Al Ain’s Zlatko Dalic

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Long-term ambition: Zlatko Dalic.

Coach Zlatko Dalic has insisted he is “too young” to take on the Croatia job and all his focus is on leading Al Ain to further success in the years ahead.

Dalic, 48, has been linked by the media in his native country with taking over the  after boss Niko Kovac and his entire staff were sacked last week after a pair of disappointing Euro 2016 qualifying results. 

This followed reports the 83-times-capped former international Kovac had fallen out with Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric.

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But speaking after the Arabian Gulf League champions’ 2-0 triumph at Al Wasl on Sunday, Dalic sought to end the speculation and declared the timing was not right to consider such a switch.

He said: “I have my job here and I want to stop rumours about the situation. All my focus is on my club.

“From my first day in this country, I have been happy and had a great desire to be successful with Al Ain. I hope to realise my goals with the team and continue for a longer period.

“I have time for the national team. I am too young for the national team – all my focus is here.”

Dalic has experience of international football, being the assistant coach of Croatia Under-21s from 2006 to 2011 under Drazen Ladic. 

He has earned a positive reputation with his exploits since, also guiding Al Faisaly and giants Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia.

The former Hadjuk Split midfielder’s contract with the Boss expires at the end of this season. 

Since arriving in Al Ain during March 2014 – firstly as technical supervisor – he has won the 2013/14 President’s Cup, 2014/15 Arabian Gulf League, 2015 Arabian Gulf Super Cup and reached the semi-finals of the 2014 AFC Champions League.

The Croatian Football Association hope to have finalised a successor to Kovac by September 21. 

Lokomotiva Zagreb coach Ante Cacic is reported to be favourite for the post.

A figure of key importance in the UAE for Dalic is centre forward Emmanuel Emenike.

Emenike, 28, continued his fine start to life at Al Ain after his one-year loan switch from Fenerbahce, making it four goals in two starts with a brace at Wasl. 

The Nigera international has been given the daunting task of replacing club legend Asamoah Gyan, a man who scored 95 goals in 83 AGL matches.

“I have great respect for the name of striker Asamoah Gyan,” Dalic said. 

“But we should forget Gyan at this stage and think about supporting Emmanuel Emenike.

“Sure, he has a very hard job replacing Asamoah Gyan but he scored two goals. He deserves all our support at Al Ain.”

The Boss are next in action on Saturday when they will hope to continue their perfect start to the top-flight season against Sharjah.

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