Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Ajman's Driss Fettouhi looks to score during the semi-Final Pro League football match between Al Shabab (green) v Ajman (orange) at Shabab's Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium on 25.03.2013. Ashraf Umrah / Al Ittihad
Ajman's Driss Fettouhi looks to score during the semi-Final Pro League football match between Al Shabab (green) v Ajman (orange) at Shabab's Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium on 25.03.2013. Ashraf Umrah / Al Ittihad

Ajman have their Pro League goals in perspective

Pro League strugglers such as Dubai, Al Shaab, Dibba Al Fujairah and Kalba need to come up with their own long-term plan like Ajman, be patient and stay the course.

Moments after Ajman's tense 2-1 victory over Al Shabab in the semi-finals of the Etisalat Cup, Abdulwahab Abdulqadir was asked about his team's chances in the final.

"It's a final," the Ajman coach said. "We have as much of a chance as our opponents."

There were no wordy assessments and the short, uncluttered response was typical of Abdulqadir. Win or lose, the Iraqi always sits at post-match press conferences with a smile, never going overboard in praise and never bitter in criticism.

That attitude reflects in his team's football as well. Ask any coach in the Pro League and he will pick Ajman as a dangerous mid-table floater, capable of beating any side. And Abdulqadir's team do fancy their chances against any team. They seldom play for a point and the coach, on numerous occasions, has emphasised on playing attractive, free-flowing football.

At times, that strategy has failed them as well. A look at the Pro League points table makes that clear. Ajman have scored 33 goals, which is the sixth-best tally in the league, but they have also conceded 39; only Kalba (56) and Dibba Al Fujairah (42) have allowed more.

On their day, Ajman can beat teams such as Al Wahda (a 4-2 win) and lord over the likes of Dibba (4-1, 6-1) and Kalba (6-1), but then crumble against teams like Al Ain (4-1, 4-0) or Baniyas (5-0) or even Al Wasl (4-2).

But as Khalifa Al Jarman, the chairman of Ajman's board of directors, said, the team is still learning how to play against the top sides of the league. And hence, they have set themselves the "realistic" target of staying in the top division for three consecutive seasons.

They hold no hollow dreams of competing against Al Ain, Al Jazira or Al Ahli for the league title.

As Al Jarman pointed out, even with their resources, Jazira finished runners-up for three consecutive seasons before they got their hands on the Pro League trophy.

"Even with the best players, you are not assured of success," he said.

"Al Jazira had to wait for three years and you can see the same thing with Al Ahli now.

"They have the best Emirati and foreign players, and a top coach, but they still have to wait for the title."

With their limited resources, Ajman prefer to walk first before they think of flying. That pragmatism, however, seems to be missing at most of the lower-ranked clubs. Kalba, Dibba and Al Shaab - the three teams battling in the relegation zone - have all changed their coaches, while Abdulqadir is in his second consecutive season at Ajman and under no pressure of losing his job.

Rene Marsiglia must be wishing he could say the same, but the Dubai coach is under increasing pressure, a victim of perhaps his own success in the first half of the season. The Frenchman has seen his team lose four consecutive league matches and could lose his job if the club do not get a win soon.

"Really, I am under a lot of pressure from everybody - from the media, from people here at the club," Marsiglia said after the last round of the Pro League.

"There is too much pressure on me and it's not good."

And it is not good for his team either. The uncertainty will not help the players in any way.

Dubai - and even Shaab, Dibba and Kalba - need to come up with their own long-term plan like Ajman, be patient and stay the course.

Nobody likes to lose, but you need to be realistic when you are playing against opponents at a much higher level.

 

arizvi@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates scoring the opening goal in the Champions League semi-final first leg match against Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday in Madrid, Spain. Martin Rose / Bongarts / Getty Images / April 23, 2014

In pictures: Benzema propels Real Madrid over Bayern Munich

Images from Real Madrid's 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final first leg match at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

 UAE’s Charlie Sargent tries to avoid a tackle by Singapore team members during the one-off Division 1 Test at The Sevens. The Singapore-born winger was making his debut. Sarah Dea / The National

Asian Five Nations: UAE go into rebuilding mode in Division 2

With a new look squad, including five emerging Emirati players, the UAE will hope to restructure and get into the winning habit in more forgiving climes when they drop a level in the revamped competition next season.

 Chris Gayle has been the most feared batsman in the Royal Challengers Bangalore line-up since he joined the team in 2011. Indranil Mukherjee / AFP

Parthiv continues to fill Gayle’s big shoes for Bangalore

Indian wicketkeeper-batsman will continue to open the innings for Royal Challengers with the West Indian still nursing his bad back, writes Paul Radley.

 Ian Poulter is fifth on the points list to make the cut in a 12-man European side for the Ryder Cup. Paul Lakatos / AFP

Ian Poulter sees momentum in Europe’s squad-building, with Ryder

Lot of players are striking well to stay in contention for the 12 spots in the team, but there is still lot of time before September, he warns.

 Erykan Bityutsky pulls a 4x4 car during the final day of the UAE Strongman Competition in Dubai. Delores Johnson / The National

UAE Strongman Competition takes weight training to a whole new scale

Two-day competition in Dubai attracts men and women from across the Emirates and proves it takes more than just bulky muscles to win, writes Ali Khaled.

 Benfica's Oscar Cardozo, from Paraguay, lifts the trophy celebrating after beating Olhanense on Sunday at Estadio da Luz. Benfica's 2-0 clinched them the Portuguese Primeira Liga championship. They will play Juventus in the the first leg of their Europa League semi-final tie on Thursday April 24. Francisco Seco / AP / April 20, 2014

Ambitious Benfica ready for Juventus while Sevilla and Valencia set to battle in Europa last-four

Benfica, fresh off clinching their 33rd Portuguese title, are looking to keep Juventus from reaching the Europa League final - which will be played in Turin - while the other semi-final sees La Liga rivals Sevilla and Valencia clash.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National