Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 January 2020

Cosmin Olaroiu rubbishes talk about replacing UAE football manager Mahdi Ali

The Al Ahli manager denies being linked with role since UAE’s dispiriting World Cup qualifying defeat to Saudi Arabia in Jeddah on Tuesday.
Cosmin Olaroiu is focused on his job as Al Ahli manager. Mohamed El Shahed / AFP
Cosmin Olaroiu is focused on his job as Al Ahli manager. Mohamed El Shahed / AFP

DUBAI // Cosmin Olaroiu has described speculation he will succeed Mahdi Ali as the UAE national team manager as “rumours”.

The Al Ahli manager has been linked with the role since the UAE’s dispiriting World Cup qualifying defeat to Saudi Arabia in Jeddah on Tuesday. The 3-0 loss, the UAE’s second defeat in four Group B matches, meant they dropped to fourth in the standings, two points and two places off an automatic spot for Russia 2018.

The result has prompted calls on social media for Mahdi Ali to be replaced, with “Sack Mahdi” trending in the UAE immediately following the Saudi match. The Emirati, who has achieved significant success with the national team, signed a new three-year contract in February last year and it is understood he retains the backing of the Football Association.

Romanian Olaroiu and Al Nasr manager Ivan Jovanovic have been touted as potential candidates should Mahdi Ali be dismissed.

However, speaking on Friday before Sunday’s Emirati-Moroccan Cup match between Ahli and FUS Rabat at the Rashid Stadium, Olaroiu said: “First of all, Mahdi has done a really great job for the national team and people shouldn’t look at outside things. The words that were spread are just rumours, like before when they was about me coaching the Romania national team.

“I’m here at Al Ahli club. As long as I’m here I’ll do my best. I’m focused and fully committed to the club.”

Meanwhile, Olaroiu said he was not concerned about the ill effects of the Saudi defeat on his UAE international players. Ahli had eight players travelling with the national team.

“Only they can help themselves to get over this,” he said. “They should analyse whatever happened and get past this as fast as they can. Of course, at the club they’ve different goals they’d like to achieve. For us, the most important thing now is the club. And we always try to help the players be fully prepared.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Updated: October 14, 2016 04:00 AM

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