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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 February 2021

Laszlo Boloni: Rent, Don't Buy

Job security is a chimera in the Pro League. Ask any of the four coaches Al Ahli fired last season.

And not to put too much pressure on a guy one week into the season, but we're thinking Laszlo Boloni, new coach of defending champions Al Wahda, may not want to get too comfortable in the capital.

Six days after his side was embarrassed, 3-1, by the relegated side Emirates in the Super Cup, Wahda was roughly handled by Al Wasl 2-0 in the first week of the 2010/11 Pro League season.

Boloni probably knows well the shaky job status of Pro League coaches. He worked for a year here in 2007 with Al Jazira, leading Abu Dhabi's other team to second place, the first time Jazira had finished that high -- though it now makes a habit of it.

At Wahda, he replaces Josef Hickersberger, the Austrian who was quite popular (as well as successful) last season as the club caught and passed Jazira in the final month,

Granted, Wahda was missing some pieces last night; both Ismael Matar and Mohammed al Shehhi were suspended tonight because of red cards picked up in the Emirates debacle, and the midfielder Pinga, a stalwart last year, is now with Al Ahli.

But that should not have affected the defense, which was porous throughout and propped up for nearly an hour only by the heroics of keeper Adel al Hosani. Eventually, Alexandre Oliveira scored on a header, and then Francisco Yeste, the Spanish import better known as a hard man than a goalscorer, took a leisurely jog across the top of the Wahda box before firing in a left-footed rocket to clinch it for the home side.

Boloni has nothing to fear yet. At least we don't think so. But  that racket you hear at Pro League headquarters is teeth chattering at the idea of the defending champion coming apart at the seams just months before it represents the UAE in the Fifa Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi. Everyone remembers that it was Ahli who were champions a year ago, started poorly and then were ousted from the Big Event by a New Zealand pub team. Well, almost.

Boloni's boys need to pick up the pace, or his second tour here may not last even as long as his first.

Published: August 27, 2010 04:00 AM