x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Cosmin Olaroiu will ignore Al Ain fans' taunts

The Romanian says he will not be affected by any taunts from the stands when he leads Al Ahli in the Super Cup against his former club Al Ain.

The Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu talks to the media ahead of tonight's Super Cup match against Al Ain. Ravindranath K / The National
The Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu talks to the media ahead of tonight's Super Cup match against Al Ain. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // Cosmin Olaroiu says he will not be affected by any taunts from the stands when he leads Al Ahli in tonight's Super Cup against his former club Al Ain.

The Romanian is expected to receive a hostile reception from Al Ain fans after his controversial switch to their rival side in Dubai during the summer.

"I have no problems with what took place in the past few months. It doesn't affect me in any way," Olaroiu said ahead of tonight's showdown at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

"For them [fans], it is hard to forget what I did for them in the past two years. My relationship and respect will continue, even if we have different choices in life. Now I am at Ahli and glad to represent them here. I always do my best and want my team to win every game.

"The Super Cup is a special game between two strong teams. A lot of things happened in the past months to make the game even more interesting. I hope it will be a good game for everybody to enjoy. What I want to see is a good game of football."

Ahli defeated Al Ain twice in three meetings last season, a 6-3 away victory in the opening game of the league season and a 2-1 win - when Al Ain had two players sent off - in the President's Cup semi-final.

Al Ain were awarded a 3-0 victory from the return league encounter after the game was called off in the last minute - with the score at 0-0 - when an object thrown from the Al Ahli section hit the referee's assistant in the head.

Cosmin expects the teams to be evenly matched once more this season.

"Al Ain are one of the strongest teams in the league. They also know us," he said. "Football is not mathematics or science. Things keep changing in football at every second. Any player can do different things, so it is not easy to anticipate what's going on, on the pitch.

"That's why we must concentrate and pay a lot of attention on what happens on the pitch. These players have been playing against each other for many years and they know each other's game."

Likewise, the Romanian will read little into the result tonight.

"I don't think both teams have reached their maximum level because of the short training period and being the first game of the season, but hopefully we can see a good game," he said.

"I don't think the Super Cup will decide the season for us. However, if we win, it will be good for the morale of the team, and if we don't, it is not the end of the season."

Grafite, the Brazilian striker who scored 24 league goals last season, will be absent along with Adnan Hussain, due to one-match bans carried forward from last season.

Walid Abbas, the UAE international defender signed from Al Shabab, sits out tonight because of injury.

"Grafite is an important player for us," Olaroiu said. "He is a leader and a fighter. It is unfortunate we can't have his services for this game. But we are not complaining.

"Ahmed Khalil takes his place and, provided the opportunity; I trust he will do a good job for us."

 

apassela@thenational.ae

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