x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Andone in at Ahli

Ioan Andone has been named as Ivan Hasek's successor at Al Ahli and will lead the club as they defend their Pro League crown next season.

Ioan Andone, left, watches Saudi side Ettifaq during the AFC Champions League match against Uzbeks Bunyodkor in Dammam on May 5. Andone is the new manager of Pro League champions Ahli.
Ioan Andone, left, watches Saudi side Ettifaq during the AFC Champions League match against Uzbeks Bunyodkor in Dammam on May 5. Andone is the new manager of Pro League champions Ahli.

Ioan Andone, the former Romanian international, has been named as Ivan Hasek's successor at Al Ahli and will lead the club as they defend their Pro League crown next season. Andone, 49, is also tasked with preparing the team for December's Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, where they could come up against European Champions Barcelona should they win their first two matches.

Hasek returned home to the Czech Republic last week after guiding Ahli to the league title. He turned down an offer for a contract renewal, opting to contest the elections for the presidency of the Czech Football Association, which will be held on June 27. Andone, who has signed a one-year deal with Ahli, is hoping to repeat Hasek's success and put up a good show against the world's best at the Club World Cup.

"I have watched Ahli closely last season," said Andone, who guided the Saudi Arabian side Al Ettifaq to the second round of the 2009 Asian Champions League before stepping down after a 2-1 home loss to Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor. "The team has a lot of potential and I hope we will be able to translate that on the field, and have another good season." "We have a lot of competitions next season and we will have to start preparing early. We will also need a bigger group of players. We will have to prepare not just 18 players, but 30 or 40 players, to be ready for all the different competitions."

Andone, who won 55 caps with the Romanian national team and represented his country at the 1990 World Cup, is a former Dinamo Bucharest defender, helping the club win two league titles and three Romanian cups. He later took over as coach at Dinamo in 2002 and guided them to one league title and three domestic cups in succession. After a spell in Cyprus with Omonia Nicosia, he took over CFR Cluj, the tiny Romania side who had never won a trophy, and led them to a league and cup double in 2008. Six years earlier they were playing in the Romanian third division, but when Andone left them for Ettifaq, they were in the Champions League.

Similar heroics will be required in December if Ahli are to win through to the latter stages of the Club World Cup and earn a shot at the big boys. arizvi@thenational.ae