x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pro League Awards: The National's best managers

John McAuley, Amith Passela and Ahmed Rizvi think Al Ahli's Quique Sanchez Flores, Ajman's Abdulwahab Abdulqadir and Al Shabab's Marcos Paqueta are among the best managers.

Al Shabab manager Marcos Paqueta led his team to the President's Cup. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Al Shabab manager Marcos Paqueta led his team to the President's Cup. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Quique Sanchez Flores, Al Ahli
written by John McAuley
While Al Ain's Cosmin Olaroiu could be considered the obvious choice, his counterpart at Al Ahli has arguably performed better with slightly inferior resources.
In guiding his side to second place in the Pro League, Sanchez Flores has continued the sterling work of late last season, moulding a squad that in 2013/14 will represent the most authentic challenge to Al Ain. Ahli play swift, attacking football, aesthetically pleasing and ruthless in its execution. A President's Cup victory would be a suitable conclusion to a fine campaign.
Abdulwahab Abdulqadir, Ajman
Written by Amith Passela
Ajman are one of the Pro League's less fashionable teams. Limited funds means they cannot match the resources of other sides, yet their Iraqi manager led them to a first trophy in almost 30 years.
Abdulqadir, a long-time UAE resident, would have been happy enough to see his side steer clear of the relegation battle - which they have done - and their surprise 2-1 defeat of Al Jazira in the Etisalat Cup final this month was the icing on the cake for a smaller team who play attacking football.
Marcos Paqueta, Al Shabab
written by Ahmed Rizvi
With Cosmin Olaroiu, Quique Sanchez Flores and Walter Zenga grabbing the headlines, Paqueta has spent the season in the shadows, except for the early parts when he was facing calls to quit following a poor start.
Away from the spotlight, Paqueta has led Shabab to the final of the President's Cup and also took the team to the second round of the Asian Champions League. And given the budget he has worked with, Paqueta deserves to be honoured.
Editor's Note: The first ever Etisalat Pro League Awards ceremony will be held Sunday night at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. The awards will honour the standout performers of the 2012/13 season in nine categories: Emirati Player of the Year, International Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Top Scorer of the Year, Professional Club of the Year, Fantasy Football Manager of the Year, and Fans' Player of the Year. The first five categories were voted for by media institutions as well as the coaches, captains and team managers of all 14 professional clubs. The ceremony, starting at 6.30pm, will be broadcast live on Abu Dhabi Sports.
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