x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Abdullah Hareb sets focus on new direction for Al Wasl after returning as chairman

The former officlal returns to the Zabeel Stadium hotseat with the ambition of blooding more academy players with nothing to play for this season.

The new Al Wasl chairman wants to pick the right team, for an open-door policy to hear out fans' concerns for the club. Jake Badger for The National
The new Al Wasl chairman wants to pick the right team, for an open-door policy to hear out fans' concerns for the club. Jake Badger for The National

DUBAI // Al Wasl's new chairman Abdullah Hareb has promised to assemble the best possible management team around him to help the crisis-ridden club return to their former glory.

Hareb, who has served as the Al Wasl chairman before, was brought back to the top post by Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid, the club president, after the previous administration, headed by Mohammed Ahmed bin Fahad, handed in their resignations last week amid criticism from the fans and the media over the club's poor form this season.

Wasl are ninth in the Pro League, having lost five of their last six games. They were knocked out of the President's Cup by Dibba Al Fujairah and have no chance of progressing in the Etisalat Cup either, ahead of today's final round of games.

Hareb concedes it is too late to save this season, but the veteran administrator is confident his "road map" will put Wasl back on track.

"There is not much we can do at the moment," Hareb said. "The season is coming to a close and you cannot bring any new players, you cannot register any foreign players. So we have work with the people we have.

"I am still studying the situation right now. After this I will work on assembling the best possible team to serve the club. We have to select the right people to meet our targets. We have to make sure we are on the right track and then everything will fall into place.

A similarly disappointing 2012/13 season had seen Marwan bin Bayat-led Wasl board step aside last July and the Argentine legend Diego Maradona was dismissed as the coach by the new administration. The former UAE and Al Ain coach Bruno Metsu was appointed as the manager and the team made a promising start under the Frenchman.

However, things started to unravel once Metsu was forced to step down because of illness. His replacement Guy Lacombe struggled with injuries to key players such as Mariano Donda and Rashid Issa, and the club were forced to change three of their four foreign players in the January transfer window.

Those changes, however, did nothing to improve the results and Lacombe was eventually shown the door. The Emirati Eid Baroot was appointed as his replacement.

Given their current plight, Hareb believes it is time to give a chance to the players coming through the youth ranks of the club.

"We have a good academy and we have a lot of talented young players," Hareb said.

"It is time to give them an opportunity to prove themselves. We will also try to attract the best foreign players for next season, players who have the ability to help Wasl achieve their ambitions.

"I also call on the fans to come and support the team. We need the support of everyone. We will have an open-door policy. We are here to listen and our doors will be open to the fans, to the media and to anyone who has the good of Al Wasl at heart."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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