x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Focus for Quique Sanchez Flores is success for Al Ahli rather than new Pro League contract

Quique Sanchez Flores wants to talk about his side's chances to win the President's Cup and their place in the league table, saying the time isn't right to discuss a new deal with the club just yet.

Quique Sanchez Flores wants to talk about Al Ahli's chances in the President's Cup and their climb up the Pro League table, not whether he will renew his contract.
Quique Sanchez Flores wants to talk about Al Ahli's chances in the President's Cup and their climb up the Pro League table, not whether he will renew his contract.

DUBAI // Quique Sanchez Flores insists he is "very happy" with life at Al Ahli, but the Spaniard is not ready to talk about contract renewal as yet.

The former Valencia and Benfica boss agreed to a one-year extension at the Rashid Stadium last summer despite reports linking him with a return to Europe, and Ahli fans are hoping he will decide to continue at the club for another season at least.

However, Sanchez Flores does not want to get "distracted" by these talks, since his team are battling for a top-three finish in the Pro League and meet Al Ain in the semi-finals of the President's Cup next month.

"It is not the right time to speak about that," said Sanchez Flores, whose team moved to second on the league table, 10 points behind Al Ain, following a 2-0 win over Al Shaab on Saturday night.

"We still have two months to finish the season, and the most important thing at the moment is the players and how I can improve our performance. We are now in the top two and we have to work on maintaining this position.

"So to speak about me at this moment would be a bit of a distraction from the task."

Sanchez Flores arrived at Ahli in November 2011, replacing Ivan Hasek after a disappointing start, when the team lost two of their first three league games and two of their four Etisalat Cup matches.

The former Spain, Real Madrid and Valencia right back, who started his coaching at the Santiago Bernabeu as the manager of the youth team, gradually turned around Ahli's season, guiding them to fifth in the league and the Etisalat Cup title.

However, Sanchez Flores did not immediately accept a contract extension at the end of last season, deciding to return home for a break before agreeing to stay on for a season.

"If the fans want to know, I am very happy here," Sanchez Flores said. "Everything is OK.

"The behaviour of the club with our staff is excellent, the behaviour of the fans with our staff is excellent and my relations with the players, fortunately, is excellent.

"So re-signing is not the problem, but like I said, my focus right now is on the players and the team."

The contract of Brazilian striker Grafite, who is second behind Al Ain's Asamoah Gyan in the league's goal-scoring chart, is also up for renewal at the end of this season.

Sanchez Flores is hoping he will continue.

"Grafite is an outstanding goal-scorer and his level with Ahli speaks for itself," Sanchez Flores said.

"He has been in great form this season and was a very important player for Ahli last season as well. So I don't think the importance of Grafite to this team is a matter of debate.

"He plays very well in attack, scores goals, helps the defence and is good at set-pieces.

"He is important in all aspects of play, but I am not the person who can decide whether Grafite continues or not.

However, my opinion is very clear in this regard."

 

arizvi@thenational.ae

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