x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Pro League: Al Wasl's Eid Baroot wants 'fighting spirit'

Another bizarre twist at the Dubai club threatens to further undermine their season, although their current coach insists his players must forget the board's shock resignation and concentrate solely on matters on the pitch, writes John McAuley.

Al Wasl players celebrate after scoring the first goal against Al Ain during their match this week in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
Al Wasl players celebrate after scoring the first goal against Al Ain during their match this week in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // The Al Wasl manager Eid Baroot has stressed the importance of his players retaining their focus until the end of the season despite the current uncertainty surrounding the club.

Wasl's capricious campaign took another strange turn on Sunday night when the entire board stepped down, believed to be in response to continuing struggles in the Pro League.

Four different coaches have been employed at the Zabeel Stadium since the departure last summer of Diego Maradona and, although Bruno Metsu's exit was compelled by illness, constant change has encouraged continually poor results.

Wasl lie ninth in the standings having won three of their past 14 league matches.

Baroot's brief reign, though, has shown early signs of progress: in his three games since replacing Guy Lacombe, Wasl have recorded one victory and on Thursday tested Al Ain, the country's top team, before eventually losing 2-1.

However, Sunday's surprise resignation of the board – the second time in nine months the club have experienced such a change – threatens to accentuate the discomfort.

Baroot took training last night, and confirmed he expected to discuss the latest complication then.

"I don't want to be involved and I don't know who the new committee will be so I can't speak about it," he said before the session. "I need to concentrate on the team and continue my work.

"The team has to stand up strong, show its fighting spirit and play good football. There is plenty to work on, but generally I'm happy with the improvement since I took over."

The upheaval will test even the most dedicated minds. Baroot says he does not know if the new board, set to be installed within the next few days, will seek yet another change of manager, although the Emirati remains committed to a contract that runs until the end of the season.

He also acknowledges stability, at all levels of the club, is necessary if Wasl are to finally emerge from their malady.

"It's vital in the coming weeks to work in one direction, with the crucial matches we have coming up," he said.

"You see in the second round of the league that everybody is working hard and improving so we need to do our best.

"The players have to think that way, too, otherwise things will be very difficult. In football, those who work hard and try their best on the pitch are the ones who get results.

"We cannot rely on the history of Al Wasl, what the club once was. Al Wasl today is different from yesterday so we're trying our best to achieve something.

"I have confidence the boys will work very hard, that they accept the pressure."

Baroot praised the contribution of the outgoing board during his short tenure and says he hopes their replacement will cultivate a similar relationship.

"I cannot work alone," he said. "If I feel I'm working alone and things are testing me I'll go today and not tomorrow, simple as that.

"I don't work for money, I work for a challenge. In the coming weeks you'll see the challenge we face as a team, a club, with the fans and everybody."

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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