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

Sport360 - - Front Page - By Matt Mon­aghan @mattmon­aghan360 mattmon­

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.

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