x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Al Shaab turn to Zeljko Petrovic to save Arabian Gulf League campaign

Zeljko Petrovic, Al Shaab’s new manager, is confident he can turn around the fortunes of his struggling team and help them win their battle for survival in the Arabian Gulf League.

Zeljko Petrovic has made stops at clubs such as Anzhi, Hamburg and West Ham United. He will now be charged with righting the ship at Al Shaab in the Arabian Gulf League. AFP
Zeljko Petrovic has made stops at clubs such as Anzhi, Hamburg and West Ham United. He will now be charged with righting the ship at Al Shaab in the Arabian Gulf League. AFP

DUBAI // Zeljko Petrovic, Al Shaab’s new manager, is confident he can turn around the fortunes of his struggling team and help them win their battle for survival in the Arabian Gulf League.

Petrovic, a member of Yugoslavia’s 1998 World Cup side, takes over the reins of a team who are struggling at the bottom of the AGL table, level on seven points with Dubai and Ajman, but the 48 year old sounded optimistic as he spoke to the media about his plans.

“I have felt a lot of positivity and confidence since my arrival here,” Petrovic was quoted as saying by Arabic daily Al Roeya. “That gives me a lot of confidence, and I believe, with the support of the management, the players and the fans, we can bring the team out of the dark tunnel they are in at the moment.

“From what I have seen of the Al Shaab players they look technically sound, and I am sure that, with their help, I can achieve the ambitions of not just the club and the fans, but my own because as a coach you want to leave a good impression at the clubs you work at.

“So I feel great, and I am confident we will succeed together and remain in the AGL for the next season.”

Petrovic, who has assisted Martin Jol at Hamburg and Avram Grant at West Ham United, replaces Marius Sumudica, who was sacked after Shaab managed only four points from their first nine league matches. Jamsheer Muratocalo was the interim manager for the last two AGL matches and the Turk hands over a team who are a lot more confident after a battling 2-1 win over Dubai in their last game. Petrovic watched Shaab in action in that game and was impressed by what he saw.

“The players showed a lot of fighting spirit and the team had really good support from their fans,” the Serbian said.

“The win over Dubai gave me a great degree of satisfaction and I thank the players for that. They made sure I start my job with the spirits high in the team.”

Petrovic’s first game in charge will be a difficult trip to Sharjah on Thursday for one of the most passionately contested derbies in UAE football and, depending on the performance of the team in that game and the next, he will be making requests to club management for reinforcements in the January transfer window.

“We need to strengthen the squad with new players in January,” said Petrovic, whose last job was at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala where he served as Guus Hiddink’s assistant until July before stepping down along with the Dutchman.

“Having said that, changing players is not a substitute for training hard and fighting harder in matches.

“That is the only way to achieve our goals.”

arizvi@thenational.ae

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ABDULRAHMAN RETURNS FROM SURGERY SUCESSFUL

Amer Abdulrahman, the Baniyas and UAE midfielder, returned to the country on Monday after undergoing knee surgery in Italy.

Abdulrahman, who has 37 international caps, injured his cruciate ligament on international duty when the UAE played Hong Kong in Asian Cup qualifying in October.

The operation in Rome was successful, according to the club. He was greeted at Dubai airport by club officials, as well as the Al Nasr player and fellow UAE international Habib Fardan. Abdulrahman, 24, will now begin a rehabilitation programme and is expected back in action in March. He has appeared in only three games for Baniyas this season.

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