x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Kalba playing musical chairs, just like Sharjah

They are the same issues that afflicted Sharjah last season. Last season, the Kings just could not decide which foreign players or coaches they wanted to keep.

The Pro League resumes this weekend after a 15-day break and fans can expect a few more high-scoring games. In the last round 39 goals were scored and there is every possibility that tally might be bettered this Saturday and Sunday.

No disrespect to Dibba Al Fujairah, but keeping Asamoah Gyan and his Al Ain teammates quiet is going to be a massive challenge. They can only hope they can avoid a 7-0 drubbing, such as the one Al Dhafra suffered.

Still, whatever the scoreline, Cosmin Olaroiu's champions are unlikely to replace Al Nasr at the top of the rankings.

With no goals in their last four games, last season's Division One champions Kalba have so far looked out of their depth in the Pro League and they are not expected to shock Walter Zenga's men.

They have just not looked the part and their decisions, or indecisions, clearly betray their confusion.

Kalba started the season with the Frenchman Gregory Dufrennes, the Jordanian Amer Deeb, Abubakr Camara of Guinea and the Brazilian Serginho.

Three of them - Dufrennes, Deeb and Camara - appeared in their season-opening Etisalat Cup match against Al Wasl.

Ten days later, Camara was out of the squad after failing to score in two games and 180 minutes, replaced by Nabil Daoudi.

Ironically, the Moroccan was originally a part of the Kalba squad before he was dumped in favour of Camara just before the start of the season.

Before the transfer window closed, there was another change. Serginho, who played for 135 minutes in two matches, had to make way for the Moroccan Ahmed Jahouh.

Next, Dragan Talajic, the coach, was shown the exit after just four games and the Tunisian Lotfi Benzarti was put in charge of the team. Now, what wonders can Benzarti work at the club?

Does he come with a magic wand that Talajic, voted the best coach in Asia by Al Jazeera Sports in 2010/11, did not have? You do not have to be a genius or Jose Mourinho to understand what Kalba's problems are.

They are the same issues that afflicted Sharjah last season. This game of musical chairs is eerily reminiscent of the events at Sharjah, and we all know what it eventually led to.

Last season, the Kings just could not decide which foreign players or coaches they wanted to keep.

Portugal's Carlos Azenha was appointed their coach in the summer, but he left for home even before the season had started. The Romanian Valeriu Tita was then given the job, only to be replaced by Jorvan Vieira in December.

Just over 40 days later, Vieira was out and Tita was brought back, but by the end of March, he was forced to make way for Abdulmajeed Al Nimr.

A similar confusion prevailed over their foreign players. The Brazilian defender Vandinho was replaced on the last day of the summer transfer window by Igor Duric.

At the start of the January transfer window, Vandinho was back in place of Duric but released again as Sharjah decided to bring in South Korea's Lee Song-Ho and the Uzbek Taimur Kapadze.

The relegation of this once-mighty club, one hoped, would be a lesson for others.

But Kalba were perhaps looking elsewhere.

Had they given Talajic an ear, the Croatian might have been able to point out the reasons for their disappointing start: an injury to Dufrennes.

The Frenchman, who has just converted to Islam and chosen Eisa as his name, has missed three of Kalba's five matches and knowing the influential role he plays in the team, his absence has certainly hurt their fortunes.

Benzarti will be hoping that Dufrennes can make an early return, and is possibly making plans for the January transfer window - if he keeps his job until then.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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