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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Zoran Mamic reaffirms desire to stay put at Al Ain after AGL title victory

Manager joined Al Ain in January last year and has been in talks with club about extending contract, which expires at end of season

Zoran Mamic has begun planning for next season, providing the club with a report assessing the squad and recommending areas to bolster in the summer. Pawan Singh / The National
Zoran Mamic has begun planning for next season, providing the club with a report assessing the squad and recommending areas to bolster in the summer. Pawan Singh / The National

Zoran Mamic has reiterated his desire to stay at Al Ain following the confirmation of the club’s Arabian Gulf League title, with negotiations in progress regarding a new contract.

Saturday’s 4-0 victory at Al Nasr sealed for the Garden City side a 13th top-flight crown, and first trophy in three years, with one round to spare. Last champions in the 2014/15 season, Al Ain lost only once in the league this campaign.

In taking the title, they also booked provisionally their spot in the Fifa Club World Cup, to take place in the Emirates later this year.

Mamic joined Al Ain in January last year and has been in talks with the club about extending his contract, which expires at the end of the season. The Croat, 46, wants a positive resolution, although he suggested the onus is on his employers.

“My wish to stay with Al Ain is not new,” Mamic said. “I want to stay, but I am not alone. We have two sides and, like I said in the press conference before the game, maybe this is more a question for the club.

“OK, we have negotiations, and I think we will find a way to close the deal. But it not only depends on me, it also depends on the club. You have to speak with the people from the club. They know that I want to stay. They want me to stay.

"The conditions of the contract must be good for both sides. I hope we will find a way.”

Mamic has begun planning for next season already, providing the club last month with a technical report assessing the squad and recommending areas to strengthen in the summer. He has asked the board to retain Ahmed Khalil, the UAE striker who joined in January on a six-month contract.

Asked which one reason makes him want to remain at Al Ain, Mamic replied: “Family. I feel with the team, in the club, as in my family. Positive energy. With all the problems inside the dressing room, it’s normal: when you have 25 or 30 players in the dressing room and 20 people around them in staff, medical and coaching staff, there are always some problems, like in every family.

“But we keep these problems inside and we solve them in the dressing room. And we respect each other very much. We have a lot of very good players, so it’s not easy for me as a coach to always choose the first 11.

"But I’m the one who make the decisions and I have to make them. The players recognise that I try to be honest, try to be fair. I feel very, very good here in the team and I feel the team also feel good with me.”

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Saturday’s 4-0 victory at Al Nasr sealed for Al Ain side a 13th top-flight crown, and first trophy in three years, with one round to spare. Pawan Singh / The National
Saturday’s 4-0 victory at Al Nasr sealed for Al Ain side a 13th top-flight crown, and first trophy in three years, with one round to spare. Pawan Singh / The National

Al Ain are still involved in two other competitions, with Wednesday’s President’s Cup semi-final against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai and next month’s last 16 of the Asian Champions League to come. The UAE’s only continental champions, Al Ain take on Qatar’s Al Duhail across two legs.

With that in mind, Mamic gave his players Sunday off to enjoy the title win, but he urged focus as soon as they return to training on Monday.

“I want to say thanks to all the people in the club," he said. "The people who work on the pitch, the people who wash our clothes, the people in administration. Of course, all my staff, all the medical staff, all technical staff, all of the club, thank you for the support, thank you for the great season. We can be very happy when we talk about the championship.

“It’s a great thing for me. It’s a first trophy in this country, with this club. I hope not the last. I had the privilege to work before with Dynamo Zagreb and there I won five titles as a coach.

"It’s nice to have titles - we work for this and thanks to the club for giving me the chance to be Al Ain coach. And I think also I give something back to the club. I’m very, very happy.”