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Injuries are blamed for Ahli's woes

Champion club gives thumbs up to coach Andone despite latest setback in the Pro League.

The Al Ahli coach Ioan Andone has been given a vote of confidence by the club despite their latest Pro League setback. The champions were denied a win on Saturday when they conceded an equaliser two minutes into injury time to draw 1-1 with Sharjah. But Abdulmajeed Hussain, the director of the Ahli's first team, said the Romanian coach was not under pressure, and was the victim of the team's injury problems.

He said: "Look at the names on our injury list. Ismail al Hammadi, Faisal Khalil and Salem Khamis are out. "Obaid Khalifa and Obaid al Taweelah got injured during the warm-up before the game, and Hosny Abd Rabo joined the list early in the game. "What can any coach do in such a situation? So I do not really think changing the coach would be a solution to these problems." On Saturday Mustafa Karim's late strike cancelled out Ahmed Khalil's stunning long-range goal in the 74th minute to leave the champions 10th in the table with one win and four points from five games,

Andone, who replaced Ivan Hasek as coach in May, did not use his last two substitutions in order to eat up vital seconds as full time loomed. "The team was playing really well and I did not see any reason to change," said Andone. "I do not have too many options anyway. "From the start, during our off-season camp in Europe, I have never had the full team with me. That is the problem. "We have been missing some of the most influential players right through.

"What can I do? I can just hope they will be back soon and then we can show the real quality of this team." Ahli will play in the opening match of the Club World Cup against Auckland City in Abu Dhabi on December 9. arizvi@thenational.ae

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