x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Missing Valdivia to feel the heat

Winfried Schaefer is not known to posses the worse of Sir Alex Ferguson's traits, so Jorge Valdivia is probably safe from the "hair-dryer" treatment that even the best at Manchester United have suffered.

Al Ain's Jorge Valdivia, right, attempts to tackle Al Sharjah's Salem Mohammad
Al Ain's Jorge Valdivia, right, attempts to tackle Al Sharjah's Salem Mohammad

DUBAI // Winfried Schaefer is not known to posses the worse of Sir Alex Ferguson's traits, so Jorge Valdivia is probably safe from the "hair-dryer" treatment that even the best at Manchester United have suffered. But the soft-spoken German coach of Al Ain is clearly not too pleased with his Chilean international's late arrival from home after playing for his country in their 2010 World Cup qualifier.

Valdivia, one of the most exciting names to sign up for football in the UAE this season and nicknamed 'El Mago" (The magician), watched from the bench as Chile scored a stunning 1-0 win over Argentina in Wednesday's qualifier. But he had still not arrived in the UAE by Saturday night, when a 10-man Ain forced a 1-1 draw at Al Ahli in their second game of the Etisalat Cup. "I am not happy that Valdivia is not here," said Schaefer.

"We had league matches in Germany, Italy and England [on Saturday night], and all the South Americans players had returned for their club matches. But Jorge is not here. We have to talk." Despite midfielder Valdivia's absence, Ain fought back from a goal down to share the honours at Ahli despite playing more than 51 minutes of the game with a man down after Darwish Ahmed was sent off in the 39th minute.

Substitute Andre Senghor scored the equaliser for the visitors in the 54th minute after Hosny Abd Rabo had put Ahli ahead in the 9th minute. "Whether you are 11 players or 10 on the field, the important thing is to fight as a team," said Schaefer, who was returning to Ahli for the first time since guiding them to the league title in 2006. "The best player does not win the match, the best team wins the match," said the coach. "So congratulations to my team. They showed great commitment. They played their hearts out - they showed the heart that this Al Ain team has.

"At half-time, I told my players we can win this match. We need to play good football, but not an open game. I asked them to play short passes, one against one. "It was not easy for our left-back Abdulla Ali against Clederson Cesar, but a second player would always come to help him out. That was fantastic. It was what we needed. "We have very fast players in Soufiane Alloudi, Ali al Wehaibi and Andre Senghor and they worked very hard to make up for our numerical disadvantage. So well done to them and the whole team."

Darwish was sent off for trying to trip Hosny as the Egyptian walked past him during a stoppage. The referee, Mohammed Omar, was right on the spot and gave Darwish his second yellow of the game and his marching orders. "This was only his second match and maybe he was a bit over- excited," said Schaefer. "He has to learn. He is a good player and if he can learn to control himself, he can play better football."

arizvi@thenational.ae