Al Ain last night sacked their manager Winfried Schaefer, despite the team being third in the Pro League and winning the season-opening Super Cup. The decision comes a day after Ain were beaten 1-0 by Al Wahda, leaving them five points behind the league leaders Al Jazira. "The club management decided to terminate the coach and his staff with immediate effect," said a statement from the club. "We appreciate the good work he had done for us last season and wish him well for his future endeavours."
Schaefer led Ain to Etisalat Cup and President's Cup last season and his contract was extended until next summer. The German - who took charge of Ain in 2007 having spent two seasons managing the Dubai side Al Ahli - had a bright start, winning the curtain raiser Super Cup against the Pro League champions Ahli, and then led them to four league victories and a draw with Jazira. A draw with Al Dhafra followed by a shock exit from the President's Cup, beaten by 10-man Ajman in a penalty shoot-out 4-3 and the defeat to Wahda in the league on Tuesday, was enough for the 2003 Asian Champions League winners and nine times domestic league champions to part company with him.
Schaefer became the fourth coaching casualty of the season in the Pro League after the Brazilians Toninho Cerezo of Al Shabab and Ze Mario of Ajman, and Ahli's Romanian Ioan Andone. Cerezo's is one of the leading candidates to succeed Schaefer. The Moroccan Rasheed Mahmoud was appointed caretaker manager as they prepare for their next league game with Al Wasl at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium on Sunday.