Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 July 2019

Zlatko Dalic to depart Al Ain after Al Jazira defeat: ‘Thanks for three great years’

Croatian says he needs rest after more than two years in charge of Garden City club following 3-1 defeat to leaders and is likely to be replaced by Ivan Jovanovic, writes Amith Passela.
Al Ain manager Zlatko Dalic is leaving the Garden City club after more than two years in charge. Christopher Pike / The National
Al Ain manager Zlatko Dalic is leaving the Garden City club after more than two years in charge. Christopher Pike / The National

AL AIN // Al Ain manager Zlatko Dalic is leaving the Garden City club after more than two years in charge following their 3-1 defeat at home to Al Jazira on Monday night.

Dalic, who joined Al Ain in 2014, said he was tired and needed rest following a sobering defeat that left them third in the table, seven points behind leaders Al Jazira and one point behind second-placed Al Ahli.

This was Al Ain’s second straight defeat after the 3-2 loss against Emirates last week. Prior to that result, they were held 1-1 by bottom side Baniyas.

“I have done my best. I don’t want people coming and shouting and abusing at me and my club,” Dalic said after the game. “I spoke with my supervisor that I’m ready to leave. I’m really proud of my three years at the club. I think it’s time. I don’t want to take anything from anybody. I need to rest.”

He also refused to say “anything against my players, my club and the fans”.

“Thank you for everyone who supported me,” he said. “This is a friendly chat because I don’t want to make any problem with my club.”

A club official confirmed Dalic’s intention to depart, although he did not say whether the Croatian was dismissed or opted to leave.

Dalic, who extended his contract by a year in June 2016, is likely to be replaced by former Al Nasr manager Ivan Jovanovic for the remainder of the season.

Al Jazira moved six points clear at the top of the Arabian Gulf League table after their demolition of Al Ain at the Hazza bin Zayed stadium.

Mohammed Fawzi put the visitors ahead in the first half and Leonardo covered nearly the full length of the pitch before beating Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa to double the lead.

Omar Abdulrahman pulled one back with a lofted shot from 30 yards that beat Jazira keeper Ali Khaseif.

Just when Al Ain had put their foot in the door, Al Jazira striker Ali Mabkhout scored on the counter with five minutes of added time left.

Playing in a 3-4-3 formation Al Ain kept the pressure on the Jazira goal for much of the first half.

Al Jazira manager Henk ten Cate was understandably ecstatic following the result.

“The dream continues,” he said. “You can’t imagine how extremely proud I am with this team. They showed very, very big heart today.”

The Dutch manager said their win was all about having a good strategy and executing it on the night.

“Our techniques worked very well,” he added. “We surprised them by playing Ailton [Almeida] on the right. And this forced them to play the No 19 [Mohanad Salem] as a left-back and this is where we hurt them twice, especially the first goal from Fawzi, a fantastic combination with Ailton.

“For me, still, Al Ain is the team that plays the best football in the country. So we had to find a way to play them and this is what we did tonight. We scored twice on counter attacks and they were so well played. After this game, I can only say the dream continues.”

Dalic, meanwhile, refused to criticise his player for the defeat.

“We lost but I can’t say nothing about my players,” he said. “They did everything they could. They created a lot of scoring chances both from left and right, but couldn’t score. This is football.”

apassela@thenational.ae

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Updated: July 21, 2017 06:42 PM

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