x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Al Wasl narrow coaching search to two candidates

The Dubai club expect to have a successor to Laurent Banide in place within the next week.

DUBAI // Al Wasl are in advanced negotiations with two coaches to become the club’s next manager, and hope to have an appointment made by next week.

The Zabeel Stadium side are searching for a replacement to Laurent Banide, the Frenchman who earlier this month was dismissed less than five months into his two-year contract.

Wasl had originally drawn a shortlist of four potential candidates, but two of those considered were reluctant to move to the UAE. Of the two remaining possibilities, one is European and the other Argentinian.

“One of the coaches is a really young coach - he’s spent only three years as a top coach – but he’s a very, very strong personality and wants to focus on the young players,” said Sultan Hareb, a Wasl board member. “And in those three years he won two trophies.

“And the other has managed some very famous clubs in Europe. He too has won trophies and guided clubs from the second division to first division. He stayed with them and improved them.

“That’s the kind of skill set we’re looking for: people for the long-term, those intent on spending all their time with the different squads we have here and improving the players. That’s our most important criteria.”

Since the new board took charge in April, Wasl have placed emphasis on developing and promoting players from their youth sides, and they now seek a manager who will preside over the Under 17s, U19 and reserve-team groups, as well as his obvious first-team duties.

The board feel Wasl’s stuttering start to the 2013/14 season - they have gleaned nine points from nine matches in all competitions - was a direct consequence of Banide’s failure to refine the technical attributes his playing staff.

Costly errors were a distinctive feature during the first two months of the campaign, and the club say they have made it their priority to attract a manager who can not only coax the best from his players in the short-term, but has a concrete plan for future success, too. They entertain Al Dhafra on Thursday, with Saleem Abdelrahman continuing in his role as caretaker coach.

“Whoever comes in, he must get everything possible from the first team, but he also needs to have a strong faith in youth players and a knowledge to give them a chance and to help them progress to that team,” Hareb said.

“We don’t want a coach whose looking only to win for their own track record and who doesn’t care about the future of the team. We want to use our own players to have success. We’ve very good players at the club at all levels, so we need to progress them.”

Hareb highlights Ahmed Mahmoud, Fahad Hadeed, Khalifa Abdullah and Mohammed Jamal as clear examples of the advantages of placing faith in young, local players. Each has benefitted greatly from regular first-team experience last season and have now become Arabian Gulf League regulars.

“Look at their quality this year, it is totally different; they have improved so much,” Hareb said. “Yet for the past 10 years, perhaps, we have not produced our own players because we preferred to buy from outside the club. And they simply haven’t been the quality to consistently bring us trophies.

“We have talented youngsters – we have done since the 1970s - but they don’t develop as they’re not given the opportunity. Now, we’re willing to give them that chance, and the new coach will understand that.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae