AGL talking points: Al Ahli face cramped domestic schedule and Cosmin Olaroiu is not too happy

Amith Passela reviews three things to keep in mind as the Arabian Gulf League enters Week 11.

Al Ahli manager Cosmin Olaroiu is laying his frustrations out on his team’s recent scoreless draw against Baniyas on the schedule. AFP
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Cosmin Olaroiu’s frustrations were evident. The Al Ahli coach left without attending the official post-match news conference after his team were held to a scoreless draw by a second-string Baniyas in the Arabian Gulf Cup.

That result on Monday was a bitter disappointment, because had Ahli won, they would have booked their place in the semi-finals with a game to spare.

It may have been more frustrating for Olaroiu as it came just two days after Ahli suffered their first defeat of the season, thrashed 3-0 away by the champions Al Ain in the Arabian Gulf League.

After that loss, the Ahli coach said his side were being punished for reaching last month’s Asian Champions League final, as his players now have to face a cramped domestic schedule.

Ahli play third-place Al Nasr on Friday, their third match in six days, and Olaroiu has a valid reason to be concerned on the physical and mental state of his players.

Yet he has to carry on with his preparation because another poor result can put them under real pressure as they bid to keep pace with the leaders Al Ain.

Tagliabue like clockwork

There are very few players in the AGL, particularly the strikers, who have delivered more consistently to the success of their teams.

Sebastian Tagliabue is one of them.

Al Wahda’s Argentine striker is again heading the club’s scoring charts with a dozen league goals from nine games.

He topped the AGL goalscoring table in his debut season, 2013/14, with 28 goals in 25 matches and was on target 15 times from 22 games the next.

The secret behind Tagliabue’s success may be due to his humbleness, putting personal glory aside for the team’s success.

“My job on the pitch is to score for my team and that can’t be achieved without a collective effort,” he said.

“I want to score for the team I play but all that would count for nothing if the team can’t win. Whatever personal glories I achieve will be secondary because for me, the team’s success is paramount.

“If the team win, we are all winners.”

Out-of-this-world Sharjah

Sharjah seem to be on a different planet under their caretaker coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari.

They racked up four points from a possible six from their past two games, lifting them from the drop zone as they now sit two points above Al Dhafra and six clear of the basement team Al Shaab.

Before that Sharjah were lagging second bottom on four points from eight games under the Brazilian Paulo Bonamigo.

Sharjah will now be looking to take their newfound confidence forward when they meet Baniyas at home tomorrow as they seek to put more daylight between them and the bottom two.

Baniyas have had a mixed bag in the league so far with three wins, three defeats and four draws, but their ambitions seem to be downgraded from a top-four finish by their coach Luis Garcia “to a position as high as possible” in the AGL table.

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