x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Al Ain's Jorge Fossati unworried by Cosmin Olaroiu's knowledge

New Al Ain manager Jorge Fossati is confident his predecessor in the role will not have an advantage at Al Ahli this season, report John McAuley.

Al Ain players train in Austria ahead of the start of the new season next month. Image courtesy of Al Ain
Al Ain players train in Austria ahead of the start of the new season next month. Image courtesy of Al Ain

Jorge Fossati says he is not concerned that Cosmin Olaroiu's knowledge of the Al Ain squad will play a major factor in the club's quest for more silverware next season.

Fossati was installed last month as Olaroiu's replacement, following the Romanian's decision not to extend his contract with the Garden City side. Instead, Olaroiu chose to join Al Ahli, the club now considered a genuine threat to Al Ain's title aspirations.

Ahli were the UAE champions' closest rivals in the league last season, finishing 11 points adrift, while in May they emerged from a fractious President's Cup semi-final with Al Ain to secure the trophy three weeks later against Al Shabab.

Since then, Ahli have strengthened considerably, signing foreign players in Hugo Viana and Ciel, with Walid Abbas and Humaid Abbas adding depth to their Emirati contingent, too.

However, it is the acquisition of Olaroiu that could prove their most shrewd piece of business, as he masterminded Al Ain's league-title wins over the past two years.

Olariou's understanding of the team is obvious, although Fossati has played down its significance. The Uruguayan is currently implementing his own philosophy during Al Ain's training camp in Austria. The season officially begins when they meet Ahli, and Olaroiu, in the Super Cup clash on August 30.

When asked about Olaroiu's familiarity with his former squad, Fossati replied: "This is true and it can't change. He was here for two years and he knows well every player's individual characteristics, but what should be taken into consideration is that knowing about a player is totally different to knowing about a team with great skills and mentality."

Fossati has welcomed back a number of first-team players, with the likes of Alex Brosque and Ali Al Wehaibi rehabilitated following recent injuries.

Asamoah Gyan, twice winner of the UAE top flight's Golden Boot, returned to the squad on Thursday having represented Ghana the previous night.

Fossati said: "It's a short time to prepare a team, but I see the players improving day after day. They've proved to me they have a professional mentality and understand the new training regimen, which is not worse or better than before, but different.

Fossati said he declined the opportunity to play friendlies against Napoli and Roma, the leading Serie A clubs, because he felt they were scheduled too early in their camp. Al Ain instead will play NK Sampion, a Slovenian side, and Qatar's Al Ahli on Tuesday and then next Saturday, respectively.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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