x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Pro League: Abdulwahab Abdulqadir wants to build on Ajman's recent success

Round-up: Iraqi confident Ajman will keep hold of foreign contingent; Al Dhafra appoint Abdullah Misfir as their new coach and Kalba part company with Ze Mario.

Ajman coach Abdulwahab Abdulqadir was named Pro League Coach of the Year on Sunday at the PLC awards after guiding the Orange Brigade to safety in the league as well as the Etisalat Cup. Silvia Razgova / The National
Ajman coach Abdulwahab Abdulqadir was named Pro League Coach of the Year on Sunday at the PLC awards after guiding the Orange Brigade to safety in the league as well as the Etisalat Cup. Silvia Razgova / The National

Ajman are refusing to bask in the glory of a first trophy in 29 years, with plans already undertaken to carry them to yet more success next season.

Abdulwahab Abdulqadir's men upset Al Jazira earlier this month to lift the Etisalat Cup only the second title since their formation in 1974 while they also enjoyed a fine Pro League campaign.

Ajman, one of the division's less-celebrated clubs, comfortably secured a third successive campaign in the UAE top flight, eventually finishing 10th in the table.

Their prosperity had much to do with the contribution of foreign strikers Boris Kabi and Founeke Sy, with Driss Fettouhi, the Moroccan playmaker, excelling since his January transfer, too.

However, their performances have prompted speculation regarding their respective futures, although Abdulqadir is confident the composition of his 2013/14 squad will soon be confirmed.

"We have identified with the management what players we need, and the club is close to deciding who our four foreign players will be next season," he said.

"This is good, as it reflects everyone's desire to finalise things early.

"We need several additions in certain positions to be able to continue to compete well next season. We experienced difficult circumstances this season, with a lot of injuries to the defence, but we regrouped to land the Etisalat Cup, which was perfect timing to lift the spirits ahead of the new campaign."

Abdulqadir said he has received offers from clubs within the region to manage them next season, although the Iraqi insists his first choice is to remain at Ajman.

While Abdulqadir seems certain to stay, there has been change at one of his league rivals, with Al Dhafra appointing Abdullah Misfir as their new coach.

The Emirati was drafted in at Dibba Al Fujairah during the league’s midseason break and almost led the club to safety, winning five of his 13 matches. Dibba’s relegation was confirmed on Saturday.

Misifr’s appointment at Dhafra still comes as a shock, though, as predecessor Laurent Banide had guided the Western Region club to eighth in the final standings.

Negotiations for a new contract had taken place between Dhafra and Banide, although the Frenchman had remarked: “I've received offers from France and there are clubs in the Gulf interested, too, but I need some time to evaluate the proposals so I can take the appropriate decision.”

Dhafra's board intend to retain Makhete Diop, their leading scorer last season, but Amara Diane could leave. Anas Bani Yaseen, the Jordanian defender, has returned to parent club Al Wahda.

Elsewhere, Kalba have decided not to continue with coach Ze Mario as the club prepare for life in UAE football's second tier.

Last season's Division One champions struggled throughout their league campaign, registering only three victories from 26 matches. In all, they were defeated 21 times to finish at the bottom of the table with 11 points.

Ze Mario, installed in December, was Kalba's third manager in a frantic first few months to the season, following Dragan Talajic and Lotfi Benzarti, who lasted four and eight matches, respectively.

The Brazilian will be followed out of the club by its entire foreign contingent, with Gregory Dufrennes, Amer Deeb, Edward Sadomba and Junior Felicio Marques, each informed their contracts will not be renewed. Sadomba, a former African Golden Boot winner, and Marques, the Brazilian midfielder, were recruited in the January transfer window.

Despite the spate of departures, the Kalba board has promised to do everything possible to guarantee a swift return to the top division.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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