x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Ibrahim Diaky enjoying role-reversal at Al Jazira

Al Jazira midfielder is back where he wants to be with new coach Caio Junior.

Al Jazira’s Ibrahim Diaky, right, celebrates his goal against Al Rayyan during an Asian Champions League win on Tuesday.
Al Jazira’s Ibrahim Diaky, right, celebrates his goal against Al Rayyan during an Asian Champions League win on Tuesday.

ABU DHABI // Ibrahim Diaky says Al Jazira's new Brazilian coach has given him the licence to express himself and play with the type of freedom that inspired the Abu Dhabi giants to the double last season.

In what appeared to be a veiled criticism of the former coach Franky Vercauteren, who was fired earlier this month after his relationship with the players broke down, Diaky believes the team are responding to the management of Caio Junior, who is "trying to adopt the same style we played for the last three seasons" and restored the UAE citizen to his more favoured central role.

Diaky scored 12 league goals last season but has found the net just twice this campaign and is without a league goal since early December.

"My game depended on the tactics of the coach," Diaky said. "The new coach has made me do what I can do best. We understand each other. And what he has asked from me, I can now do it better. It is not only that, the coach has given me the confidence and then you do your best."

Matias Delgado, Jazira's Argentine playmaker, feels the players have embraced the methods of his fellow South American.

"I have no issues in working under any coach," Delgado said. "I do my work as a professional player but I see the players are more happy and willing to work together.

"It is the mentality of each player how he works. I think we are now adapting to the old style when we were successful in winning the Pro League and the President's Cup last season. The players are also happy and feel more comfortable and confident to play the short-passing game."

Subait Khater, Diaky's teammate, said in an interview last week that Vercauteren placed unrealistic demands on the squad.

"If the coach is good, then all the players are ready to fight for him," Diaky said.

"With the arrival of the new coach we are trying to find the way how we played last year. He is trying to adopt the same style we played for the last three seasons and that is to keep possession and a short passing game. That's what we have been doing well and been successful, and that's what the new coach has asked us to do. I find the all the players are enjoying their work under him. I think he is doing a great job."

Caio Junior suffered the worst possible start to his reign when Jazira were thumped by Al Shabab in the semi-final of the President's Cup but they have responded with a league win over Diego Maradona's Al Wasl and an Asian Champions League win over Al Rayyan, a result that leaves them in pole position in Group A of the continent's premier club competition.

Diaky scored the second goal against the Qatar side - his first since he was on target in the Etisalat Cup win over Al Ain in January,

"I haven't scored for a long time and I am happy to have scored one after missing the last two games," Diaky said.

"I still found myself a bit tired in the last 20 minutes but with a little bit work my fitness will come back."

apassela@thenational.ae