x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Al Ain's Ibrahim Diaky focused on renewing vigour

Al Ain’s summer signing, who guided Al Jazira to the double in 2011, promises to be a key contributor in the UAE champions’ quest for glory, writes John McAuley.

While with Al Jazira last season, Ibrahim Diaky was team captain but was largely used as a substitute. The Ivory Coast-born player has since signed with Al Ain and is hoping to find his scoring touch again. Karim Sahib / AFP
While with Al Jazira last season, Ibrahim Diaky was team captain but was largely used as a substitute. The Ivory Coast-born player has since signed with Al Ain and is hoping to find his scoring touch again. Karim Sahib / AFP

Ibrahim Diaky has vowed to recapture his previous form so he can help Al Ain push for silverware next season.

The experienced midfielder, signed earlier this summer from Al Jazira, arrives at the UAE champions on the back of two largely disappointing campaigns with the Abu Dhabi club.

It contrasts considerably with his 2010/11 contribution, when Diaky was a key component in Jazira's double-winning side, finishing as their joint top scorer with 12 goals in 21 matches.

His input diminished significantly last term, though, and despite beginning the season as club captain, Diaky was often used as a substitute by Luis Milla, the Spanish coach appointed in February.

In 24 league appearances – increasingly from the bench – the Ivory Coast-born player managed to find the net only four times.

However, the transfer to Al Ain has provided Diaky, 31, with a sense of renewed vigour. He has impressed in pre-season training, having already forged a relationship on the pitch with Asamoah Gyan, the prolific striker.

Al Ain anticipate Diaky will prove an integral part of their quest for five trophies this season, beginning with the Super Cup clash on August 30 against Al Ahli. Diaky almost signed with the Dubai club before agreeing to join Al Ain.

"I will do my best to be ready and to regain my previous level," Diaky said from the club's training camp in Austria. "I know this demands huge effort from me, so I'll work to be ready for the new season.

"I've great trust in Al Ain competing for every title this season, because we have excellent players who'll fight to reach our goals as a team. I promise to show my best to meet the expectations of the fans and the management."

Diaky's first competitive match for Al Ain will be the Super Cup encounter with Ahli. It sees a resumption of the burgeoning rivalry between the two clubs, who in May contested a tempestuous President's Cup semi-final, which Ahli won. Cosmin Olaroiu, Al Ain's coach at the time, has since moved to Ahli.

"It's important for us after losing the semi-final to Ahli," Diaky said. "It's necessary to have confidence and focus to win the match, so it enhances our morale going into the league.

"We're working in Austria to get set for a long season. I wish success in all championships."

Diaky believes that, in manager Jorge Fossati, Al Ain have appointed the right man to deliver titles both at home and in the Asian Champions League. The Uruguayan, who in 2011 guided Qatar's Al Sadd to the continental crown, arrived as Olaroiu's replacement midway through last month, but he has been quick to curry favour with his new charges.

"Fossati is a successful coach who has a full CV," Diaky said. "He's a great person and respects everyone, giving the players the trust they need. He relies on his ability to choose only the players who give their all for the team."

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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