x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Smiles all around for new faces at Al Wahda

Abu Dhabi club officially introduce their new coach, Karel Jarolim, and foreign players ahead of 2013/14 season. Amith Passela reports.

Al Wahda’s coach Karel Jarolim, centre with new players, from left,  Damian Diaz, Marco Estrada, Sebastian Tagliabue and Dino Djulbic.
Al Wahda’s coach Karel Jarolim, centre with new players, from left, Damian Diaz, Marco Estrada, Sebastian Tagliabue and Dino Djulbic.

ABU DHABI // Karel Jarolim, the Al Wahda coach, believes he has the right balance of players to be ranked a leading contender for the domestic titles in his first season in the Arabian Gulf League.

The new coaching staff and the foreign players – Damian Diaz, Sebastian Tagliabue, and Marco Estrada – were presented before the fans, sponsors, and club management in a well-attended official introduction ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Country Club late on Sunday night.

It was the first time the club had made a grand ceremony to introduce the technical staff and all their three foreign signings and it impressed Jarolim.

“The reception we have received from the fans and club management suggests they have a lot of faith in us to win trophies,” the 60-year-old Czech said.

“Many thanks for the warm welcome to me and my coaching staff. This is a sign of the faith and high expectations from the fans as well as the technical staff and players.

“It is a massive responsibility for us and I would expect both the technical staff and players to work hard and fulfill some of the expectations.”

The former Slavia Prague coach led Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia to the King’s Cup and runners-up in the Asian Champions League last year after taking them to second in the Saudi Premier League in 2011.

“I have a good idea of the football in the UAE after my time in Saudi Arabia,” the Czech said.

“The level of football here is very high and improving all the time, and the competition very strong. It is very hard to promise we will win trophies but we will do our best to achieve them.”

Jarolim said he was familiar with some of the local players at Wahda and believes the club has made some good foreign signings who can be leading players this season.

“From the information I have gathered, this squad, including the new foreign players, strike a good balance and possess high technical skills to win titles,” he said.

Aref Al Awani, the chairman of the Al Wahda, said it was a combination of Jarolim’s knowledge of the region, the experience, and the results he had achieved, particularly at Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia that led to his hiring.

When asked if the coach had a hand in selecting the foreign players, Al Awani said the club’s technical committee had scouted them from where they had plied their trade.

“We have very good local players and the foreigners were selected accordingly to strike a good combination. There are no doubts as to the abilities of the new signings. Hopefully they can adapt quickly.”

Marco Estrada, the Chile international, said he and his new Argentine teammates were well versed in their jobs and already aware of the expectations from their fans.

“We are glad to be here and proud to wear the Wahda shirt,” he said. “We have done our homework and know a fair bit of the football in the country. They have some very good players we know and we are looking forward to the season ahead."

apassela@thenational.ae

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