x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Firefighting Olaroiu affirms ‘respect and love’ for former club Al Ain

Two days ahead of the meeting between the UAE champions and the league’s current leaders, Olaroiu used his press conference to outline his side of the argument.

Cosmin Olaroiu has been suspended for three games and fined 100,000 dirhams. Jaime Puebla / The National
Cosmin Olaroiu has been suspended for three games and fined 100,000 dirhams. Jaime Puebla / The National

DUBAI // Appearing at his pre-match press briefing a little under the weather, Cosmin Olaroiu still seemed in good spirits.

Given much of what has transpired in recent weeks, the Al Ahli coach would have been forgiven for being terse, but instead he calmly gave his version of events that precipitated a three-match suspension and record Dh100,000 fine.

Olaroiu will not take his place in the home dugout for tomorrow’s important Arabian Gulf League clash with Al Ain, his former employers.

The Romanian, who upon the summer’s inception swapped the Garden City club for Ahli, has been banned for comments made earlier this month, in which he allegedly cast aspersions on Al Ain’s current financial state.

It further muddied the waters between old colleagues, with Al Ain previously stating they planned to pursue legal action following Olaroiu’s departure in June. They claim the Romanian had signed a contract extension before accepting an offer at Ahli.

Two days ahead of the meeting between the UAE champions and the league’s current leaders, Olaroiu used his press conference to outline his side of the argument.

“All the time in my life I want to help people,” he said. “I won’t insult my best friends here and in Al Ain. They know I treat everyone the same way; I don’t want to insult anybody. But when this happening to me, I just want to explain; it is my right to defend myself.

“What I said wasn’t an insult, it was just talking about some problem that I had there, and I talked about it and didn’t intend to insult. I just wanted to tell the truth, because people had speculated many things.

“But I had informed the club that I would leave, and everyone knew I would leave. So I was disappointed in what has happened since because I never do bad things. At Al Ain I worked two years and didn’t do anything bad, nor do I expect this from the people when I work with them. But it’s a good lesson for me, a good lesson of life.”

Olaroiu was accused of making disparaging comments in the aftermath of Ahli’s League Cup victory against Ajman on November 6. The Football Association’s disciplinary committee earlier this week handed down a comprehensive punishment.

On Friday, Olaroiu said he has sought Ahli’s permission to not attend press conferences in future, to ensure his remarks will not be taken out of context. The disagreement with Al Ain clearly still rankles.

“One more time, I said in that press conference that I respected [the Al Ain chairman] Sheikh Abdullah for what he did for me, and all the people who worked with me there and helped me do my job,” he said. “They are not the reason I left my job.

“I respect them. I love them, even if they hate me. But I had a different option in my life, and maybe I could not give more there. And how I’d respect their decision, this was my decision.

“I came here, tried to do my job as much as I can and to make Ahli win. This is all. I don’t have anything against my ex-team and in my head was also that they wouldn’t have anything against me. This is what I expected, but it wasn’t like this.”

Perhaps the best way to strike back would be in guiding Ahli to victory at the Rashid Stadium. Should they emerge with a win, the 2013/14 pacesetters will increase their lead over Al Ain to 11 points, although Olaroiu rejected the notion it would thus spell the end of the champions’ title challenge.

“No, because we have many games from now,” he said. “It’s one step in front for us, but it will not be enough. We’re prepared for this game, which like any other will be a difficult one.

“Al Ain have a good squad, with a lot of good players, and are one of the teams competing with us for the league.”

Asked if Al Ain have an advantage given his absence from the bench, Olaroiu responded: “No way will it affect the players. I will be near to them. If my flu goes and my voice is back, I will be able to speak to them anyway.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter at @SprtNationalUAE