UAE CALL FOR COSMIN
The Whites have task cut out as they look to convince Romanian to take over as coach after Bauza drops a bombshell with switch to Saudi Arabia
The UAE face a tough challenge once again to convince reluctant Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club coach Cosmin Olaroiu to lead them on home soil at the 2019 Asian Cup, following Edgardo Bauza’s shocking defection to Saudi Arabia late on Thursday night.
A surprise chain of events has led to tumultuous change in the Arabian Gulf. Enraged Dutchman Bert van Marwijk terminated talks about a contract renewal just a week since qualifying his adopted nation to World Cup 2018 after an epic fallout with the Saudi Football Federation about their reportedly unilateral decision to dismiss members of his coaching staff, plus a dogged reluctance to live in the Kingdom.
This astonishing development saw them move for Bauza. He took the UAE post in May on a one-anda-half-year deal after his sacking by Argentina, with a press conference only held on Tuesday in which he mapped out the future alongside senior UAE Football Association officials in the wake of the disappointing failure to make 2018’s global tournament.
Without the knowledge of Van Marwijk, harmonious negotiations between the two governing bodies reached a swift conclusion that ensured El Paton’s spell in charge of the Whites has finished after three competitive games – June’s 1-1 draw in Thailand, plus this month’s 2-1 victory against the Saudis and 1-0 loss to Iraq. Into this vacuum, Olaroiu, 48, has emerged as the UAE organisation’s overwhelming No1 pick.
He is held in the highest regard following stints with Al Ain and – the now defunct – Al Ahli which have seen 10 pieces of silverware lifted during six years in the Emirates.
Another plus for Olaroiu is the deep links he has forged while coaching the majority of the current UAE squad at various junctures. These include 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman.
He was shortlisted as a replacement for Mahdi Ali once he resigned in March, although a concentration on club commitments prevailed.
This stance looks to be repeated less than six months later.
Olaroiu currently holds no desire to manage another national team. A group-stage exit was incurred when on loan with the Saudis for the 2015 Asian Cup.
An intent to explore heading back to Europe when his reputed ¤6.5 million (Dh28.6m) per annum deal expires at Shabab Al Ahli next summer was also cited at the time.
Such figures appear beyond the budget of the UAE. Bauza was contracted for $4m (Dh16.7m) a year.
Frustrations about an inability to complete any incoming transactions at his merged club are not currently large enough to force an exit.
One alternative target could be respected ex-Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka.
Shabab Al Ahli today kick-off their 2017/18 Arabian Gulf League commitments at home to Hatta.
04 points from Bauza’s three World Cup qualifiers for UAE
Henk ten Cate said he was “ashamed” of Al Jazira’s performance as the champions labored to a 2-1 home victory against promoted Ajman on the opening night of the Arabian Gulf League.
There was not much to be proud of in the Pride of Abu Dhabi’s performance, with summer signing Romarinho netting on his debut 10 minutes from time to rescue three points his side barely deserved.
They were fortunate to gain all three after substitute Waleed Khalid had cancelled out Ali Mabkhout’s opener – and Ten Cate labeled it the “worst performance” since he took over in December 2015.
“It was so bad. I was in agony on the bench seeing everything going wrong,” said an unhappy Dutchman, who added he was as much to blame as his players.
“The only good thing about the game was the three points. It was the worst performance since I’ve been here. To be honest I was ashamed of the performance. We were lucky to win.”
On-field temperatures peaked at 38 degrees at kick-off with humidity at 65 per cent as water breaks were scheduled after 30-minute intervals – but Ten Cate failed to blame the weather. He added: “I think it was the best wake-up call ever. We are only a good side when everyone gives 100 per cent and I don’t feel the players gave 100 per cent today.”
They lit up the league on their way to the title last year, but Jazira failed to shine bright as they snuck past the promoted Orange Brigade.
Prolific Mabkhout hit a stunning 33 league goals last term and he opened his account after 16 minutes to seemingly put his side on the road for a routine victory.
Yet it was anything but straightforward against Ajman who deservedly levelled when Khalid punished an atrocious Fares Juma mistake by sliding through Ali Khaseif’s legs six minutes after coming on.
Summer signing Romarinho – provider for Mabkhout – spared Jazira’s blushes 10 minutes from time as he thrashed home a loose ball that fell kindly for him.
22 games from 26 Jazira won on their way to 2016/17 AGL title
Changing allegiance: Edgardo Bauza during this month’s UAE v Saudi clash.
Next in line? Cosmin Olaroiu is UAE’s No1 target
Everything’s not all white: Al Jazira players congratulate Ali Mabkhout on his opener, but it was a poor display from the champions.