Al Ahli urges players to focus on AGL fixtures

They’ve been held in half of their eight AGL outings so far — a stalemate record only bettered by draw specialists Al Dhafra’s six — and a further loss means Ahli have accrued just 13 of a possible 24 points to date.



By Alex Leach (senior Reporter)

Published: Sun 30 Nov 2014, 11:04 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:29 PM

Dubai — Cosmin Olaroiu has called on Al Ahli’s UAE players returning from Gulf Cup duty to focus solely on their club commitments over the next five fixtures, starting with Sunday night’s home game against Emirates (Kick-off: 8pm).

The Red Knights resume the bread and butter of Arabian Gulf League (AGL) action tonight in sixth place on the league ladder and five points adrift of the leaders Al Wahda.

They’ve been held in half of their eight AGL outings so far — a stalemate record only bettered by draw specialists Al Dhafra’s six — and a further loss means Ahli have accrued just 13 of a possible 24 points to date.

With the AFC Champions League and Asian Cup on the horizon for the reigning champions and Mahdi Ali’s Whites respectively as well, Olaroiu knows they cannot afford any more slip-ups over the next half a dozen matches or so.

“After a long break for the Gulf Cup competition, we come back to the league,” the Romanian coach, 45, said.

“I hope that, with the players from the UAE national team training with us again, they come back with a new motivation, spirit and determination to not make the same mistakes — and give away the chances to our opponents — that we have in the past.

“They’ve played a lot of matches in difficult competitions, with us and the UAE national team. They’ve had the Gulf Cup and now they will have the Asian Cup, but they also have to focus on our league.

“I’m really glad that our players are the main ones with the UAE national team and they’ve played almost 500 minutes more than any other club.

“It’s difficult for them and we can understand that, but everyone looks in his garden and – for us – the most important thing is our team and the league.

“That’s why we’ve tried to motivate them, make them concentrate and talked with them and we hope they will understand this club and competition is very important.

“When you wear this shirt, you’re obligated to win and each player from this team should have that in his head. A second option doesn’t exist.

“I hope that all of the players’ concentration is focused on the next five games in the league.”

Olaroiu concedes he may well have to manage his UAE players carefully given their heavy schedule until now.

However, while that might be possible in defence, it could prove harder in midfield and attack for a squad currently shorn of the services of foreign duo Luis Jimenez and Carlos Munoz.

“We have to take care of some of the players so that they don’t pick up any injuries,” he added. “If we put them out there on the pitch and they feel tired, they won’t be able to play to their full potential.

“We have possibilities, especially in the defence, but there’s less chance in midfield and up front without Jimenez and Munoz. It will be a little bit difficult.”

alex@khaleejtimes.com


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