x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League club Al Ain delay naming Abel Braga as coach

Arabian Gulf League champions unveil Emirati duo but refuse to confirm appointment of former Al Jazira manager.

Ismail Ahmed.  and Mohanad Salem Al Enazi at Al Ain's news conference to announce player contracts. Duncan Chard for the National
Ismail Ahmed. and Mohanad Salem Al Enazi at Al Ain's news conference to announce player contracts. Duncan Chard for the National

AL AIN // The Arabian Gulf League champions, Al Ain, have delayed naming their new coach although Abel Braga, the Brazilian who led Al Jazira to the league/cup double in 2011, is still expected to take charge.

Rashid Mubarak Al Hajiri, the vice chairman of Al Ain's board of directors, refused to speak about the new coach on Tuesday night as the club introduced two Emirati signings – Khaled Essa, the goalkeeper from Al Jazira, and Sultan Al Ghaferi, the Baniyas midfielder.

"We will have the new coach officially unveiled in a few days when everything is formally in place," Al Hajiri said when asked if they had secured already Braga's signature.

"Tonight's event is not about the coach but to officially unveil the two Emirati players who have joined us and the contract extensions of three players."

Ismail Ahmed and Mohanad Salem Al Enazi, the defenders, and the veteran midfielder Helal Saeed were handed contract extensions but no other details were disclosed.

"They can stay as long as they want," Al Hajiri said when asked about the length of the deals.

Al Ain's pre-season training got underway on the same evening with a session at their indoor facility.

The club will stage a friendly tournament during Ramadan before embarking on their external camp in Austria next month but Mohammed Obaid Hammad, the team manager, said the programme will only be finalised upon the arrival of a coach.

"We have started the conditioning camp for the players but the rest of the programme will become clear only on the recommendations of the new coach," he said.

Al Ain have remained tight-lipped on the identity of their new manager after Cosmin Olaroiu, who led them to back-to-back league titles, moved to Al Ahli two weeks ago.

They had been in negotiations with Jorge Fossati, the Uruguayan who led Qatar's Al Saad to the Asian Champions League in 2011, before Braga emerged as their No 1 candidate.

apassela@thenational.ae

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