x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: No overhaul at Al Ain despite arrival of Jorge Fossati

UAE football champions insist they had little worry despite late hiring of coach since the composition of club promotes stability, reports John McAuley.

Jorge Fossati has taken over as the new Al Ain coach after the departure of Cosmin Olaroiu.
Jorge Fossati has taken over as the new Al Ain coach after the departure of Cosmin Olaroiu.

Al Ain are confident they have the structures in place to continue their recent success, despite the disruption this summer caused by the change in coaches.

The UAE champions have this week been settling into life under Jorge Fossati, the Uruguayan manager who on Sunday took his first training session at the Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium after succeeding Cosmin Olaroiu.

Al Ain's players returned to pre-season camp two weeks previously, and practised without a coach. The uncertainty surrounding who would lead them into the re-branded Arabian Gulf League had, understandably, created concern.

With a strong pedigree in the gulf, it has not taken long for his reputation as coach with a meticulous training standards to be reinforced. Al Ain insist they had little worry, anyway, since the 11-time UAE champions believe the composition of the club promotes stability.

"The arrival or departure of a coach doesn't change the team substantially, except with regards to the style and techniques," said Mohammed Obaid Hammad, the first-team manager.

Having studied DVDs of last season's matches, Fossati has been using the friendly tournament currently taking place at the club to further evaluate his team. Al Ain fielded a number of youth players in Monday's 2-0 victory against Riffa, the Bahrain side, although they planned to use a full strength starting XI for last night's encounter with Kuwait's Kazma.

"The Al Ain Tournament has become a very significant milestone in preparing the team for the kick off to the season," Hammad said.

On Monday, Al Ain conclude the series against Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, before travelling to Austria six days later for a two-week training camp. They have scheduled two friendlies there on August 18 and 24.

New signings Valdez and Barrada in action for Al Jazira on Friday

The spotlight will be on Nelson Valdez and Abdelaziz Barrada, Al Jazira’s newest foreign signings, when the club kick off their campaign in a four-team friendly tournament on Friday night at the Mohammed bin Zayed stadium.

It will be the first chance for the club's supporters to see the pair in action since they signed. Jazira face Al Nahda of Oman in Friday's 10pm opener in the IPIC Cup, and Al Kuwait of Kuwait play Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia to follow at approximately midnight.

The winners of the two games will meet in the final on Tuesday, while the losing teams will play for the third- place prize on Monday.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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