x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Al Ahli’s fast start in Arabian Gulf League welcome sign to Grafite

Ahli captain believes club's early-season form has given them a platform for success.

Grafite’s Al Ahli are the only Arabian Gulf League side to boast a 100 per cent winning record so far. Sarah Dea / The National
Grafite’s Al Ahli are the only Arabian Gulf League side to boast a 100 per cent winning record so far. Sarah Dea / The National

DUBAI // Grafite, the Al Ahli captain, is impressed with his side’s fast start to the Arabian Gulf League season.

The Dubai club sit at the top of the table after three rounds following a trio of victories, meaning they are the only team in the division to boast a 100 per cent record.

It marks a stark contrast to the 2012/13 campaign, when, despite defeating champions Al Ain in the opening fixture, Ahli failed to win their next two matches.

At this stage last season, they had four points.

However, the club have begun this term well under Cosmin Olaroiu, their new coach, and have managed to produce positive results despite not playing particularly well.

Grafite has been integral to their form, with the Brazilian striker registering two goals. He said Ahli have given themselves a platform to mount a sustained title challenge.

“It’s very important to start like this,” Grafite said. “Since I came here two seasons ago, we never started like this. Last season we began well against Al Ain, but then we lost a home match against Al Jazira and drew with Al Wasl. This year we’ve started well against strong teams like Al Nasr and Al Wahda. Even the match against Dubai club was a strong one. But the most important thing is that we’ve done what Cosmin told us to do.”

Ahli will enjoy their time at the league summit, where they remain for at least another three weeks as the competition takes a brief hiatus for the international break. Attention now switches to the League Cup, with Ahli travelling to Wasl on October 9.

Olaroiu’s men have failed to record a victory from two Group B matches, losing to Al Dhafra and then taking a point from their clash with Emirates. They lie sixth in their seven-team pool.

jmcauley@thenational.ae