x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Jorge Fossati's tactical nous sets him apart at Al Ain

Having witnessed firsthand Uruguayan's methods and motivations, UAE champions certain they have right man to steer them to title, writes John McAuley.

Al Ain players training in Linz at their training camp August 2013 (Courtesy Al Ain FC)
Al Ain players training in Linz at their training camp August 2013 (Courtesy Al Ain FC)

Having witnessed firsthand Jorge Fossati's methods and motivations, Al Ain are certain they have the right man in place to steer them to glory this season.

The Uruguayan, installed as Cosmin Olaroiu's replacement on July 25, has been quick to implement his footballing philosophy on his new charges, spending the past two weeks pushing the players hard in training.

The recent four-team friendly tournament in the Garden City reinforced Fossati's reputation as an astute tactician, too, especially in the match against Al Hilal, when Al Ain, clearly less physically prepared than their Saudi Arabian opponents, rebounded from three goals down to almost secure a draw.

Olaroiu's departure last month no doubt cast a shadow over the club successive UAE league titles attested to his ability however, given first impressions, the appointment of Fossati bodes well. He has the CV to back it up, with unprecedented domestic success at Al Sadd eventually culminating in the Qataris liftingthe Asian Champions League crown.

"Fossati is one of the best coaches, who can read what's happening in matches quickly and intelligently it's hard to beat him tactically," said the Al Ain team manager, Matar Al Sahbani.

"He's one of the excellent coaches to have come to Al Ain and we saw how serious he is during training sessions and matches. He's aware of the club ambitions, because we demand the team win more titles this season.

"Each coach looks for titles and Fossati is used to achieving this domestically and continentally; he knows how to face all circumstances."

On Sunday, Al Ain arrived in Austria for a two-week training camp, where they will refine the physical and technical aspects of their game ahead of the 2013/14 season-opening Super Cup encounter later this month.

Two friendlies have been scheduled for August 20 and 24, potentially against a Slovenian team and another from Qatar. Fossati will have the final decision.

Al Sahbani stressed Al Ain's fortunes do not rest solely on their latest coach, although he is confident that, in the acquisition this summer of Khalid Essa, Ibrahim Diaky and Michel Bastos, the club have given Fossati the resources to succeed.

"Surely they will be of added value to the team because they have great skills," Al Sahbani said. "We signed Khalid Essa to create competition in the goalkeeper's position … he will be a real power next to Dawoud Sulaiman, one of the best goalkeepers in the UAE.

"Diaky is a good player, experienced and we needed such a player with high skills. And we were looking for a solution to the left side of the team, so Bastos is the right choice."

Bastos's arrival spells the end of Jires Kembo Ekoko's time at Al Ain. The Frenchman, signed last year from Rennes, is currently assessing offers from clubs in his homeland and in the UAE.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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