DUBAI // Al Wasl's new manager Eid Baroot has warned his underperforming players they must prove worthy of wearing the club's shirt.
The Emirati takes charge tonight for the first time, when his side host Ajman in the Pro League intent on arresting a sequence that has seen them lose seven of their past eight matches in all competitions.
In the league, Wasl had only two victories from nine games under Guy Lacombe, the Frenchman who on Sunday night was relieved of his duties, leaving the 2007 champions ninth in the table.
Baroot, boasting previous managerial experience as the caretaker coach of Emirates, Al Dhafra and Al Nasr, accepts his new team face a difficult period of the season - Wasl are only 10 points above the relegation zone - and has said their current plight requires strong personalities.
"I spoke to the players [on Monday] and was very clear," Baroot said. "The players who are fit will play, and the players who respect the jersey of Al Wasl Club and have fighting spirit will play, no matter if he is a local or a foreigner.
"I don't care about names. Even the foreigners, if the club played millions for them this is not my problem.
"This is the time they have to fight for the club. And if a player doesn't he will never play."
Baroot's task has not been made any easier by the absence of players integral to Wasl's early season success.
Under Bruno Metsu, the coach eventually replaced by Lacombe, Wasl were unbeaten through the first five rounds, largely owing to the contribution of Mariano Donda, Shikabala and Emiliano Alfaro, three of their four overseas signings.
However, injuries to Donda and Shikabala had a significant impact on performances, and the club decided to bring in Achille Emana, the Cameroonian at Al Ahli, and Jussie, a Brazilian striker on loan from French side Bordeaux, in their place.
Meanwhile, Alfaro has recently struggled for goals, while Rashid Essa, the influential Emirati, requires surgery on a cruciate ligament and has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
Baroot, though, remains optimistic Wasl can salvage something from a season of disappointment.
"The fourth position in the league has 30 points," he said. "We are on 17, and have 11 matches - six on our ground and five away - where 33 points are available.
"So while it's not easy to reach fourth it's not impossible also. We are in ninth position and must try to improve on that. The history of the club and the fans, who are one of the most passionate in the UAE, deserve it."
As for tonight's encounter with Ajman, the team directly below Wasl in the standings, Baroot added: "The players must realise the importance of the game and forget the past.
"For me, I'm excited. I trained the team this week and saw enthusiasm in the eyes of the players from the very first moment, so we will try to translate this enthusiasm into positive performances and results on the pitch."
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