Al Ahli beat Al Wahda but Cosmin Olaroiu is heading to Saudi Arabia

The Al Ahli coach will help the national team with their preparation for the Asian Cup to be held in Australia in January.
Cosmin Olaroiu did wonders with initially but Al Ahli have been struggling in recent times. Sarah Dea / The National
Cosmin Olaroiu did wonders with initially but Al Ahli have been struggling in recent times. Sarah Dea / The National

ABU DHABI // Cosmin Olaroiu will lead Al Ahli one last time against Baniyas on Saturday before taking charge of Saudi Arabia ahead of the Asian Cup in Australia next month.

The decision came from Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, who is also the chairman of the club.

“It was a decision taken by the chairman of the club and I must respect that decision,” Olaroiu said after leading Ahli to a 2-1 win over 10-man Al Wahda last night at the Al Nahyan stadium.

“Ahli haven’t had a great season so far, but we are happy to win the three points against Wahda and will hopefully win the next game against Baniyas so they will be in a better position whoever is going to take charge from me.”

With the Arabian Gulf League taking a break for the Asian Cup from January 9 to 31, the UAE coach Mahdi Ali seems to be the front-runner to take over from Olariou.

Olaroiu has a contract until 2016 at Ahli, and it is not clear if he will return to the club.

“My next job is to prepare Saudi Arabia for the Asian Cup, but I won’t think on anything else until Ahli’s game against Baniyas,” he said.

Olaroiu will leave with fond memories. He was the first coach to win three straight league titles, two at Al Ain and last season with Ahli.

Jose Peseiro, the Wahda coach who was in charge of Saudi Arabia from 2009 to 2011, wished Olaroiu well.

“Cosmin has worked in Saudi Arabia [with Al Hilal] before, and he will be aware of the challenges,” he said. “He is one of the most successful managers in the UAE in recent times, and I don’t see why he cannot be successful with the Saudi national team. I can only wish him good luck.”

Ahmed Khalil opened the scoring for Ahli from a penalty kick – one that was retaken after Ahli players encroached on the first attempt – and Damian Diaz equalised with one at the other end. Ismail Al Hammadi struck the winner in the 64th minute.

Wahda suffered a huge setback after just 10 minutes. Adil Hermach, the Moroccan international, was sent off for bringing down Al Hammadi.

Diaz equalised from the night’s second spot kick. Abdulaziz Sanqour fumbled a clearance that left Diaz one-on-one with Majed Naser, the Ahli keeper, who brought down the Argentine.

REPORT CARD

Star performer: Ismail Al Hammadi (Al Ahli)

He is a player who makes things happen on the pitch. The Emirati international earned a penalty and scored the winner with a stunning shot from 25 yards.

Underperformer: Abdulaziz Sanqour (Al Ahli)

The right-back fumbled with a clearance inside the area that led to Wahda’s equaliser from a spot kick they earned from the ensuing move.

Key moment

Wahda were left with 10 players in the 10th minute when Adil Hermach had to march out for a tackle from behind on Ismail Al Hammadi. It was too much against a team like Ahli.

Al Wahda rating

5/10 They competed well for a team that had to play almost the entire game with 10 players. Wahda did well to score an equaliser and keep the match alive until the final whistle.

Al Ahli rating

6/10 Ahli enjoyed the numerical advantage. They were not outstanding but did enough to win the three points, thanks to the individual brilliance of Al Hammadi.

Our verdict

Al Ahli took a positive step forward with the victory and can take the momentum forward to give the departing coach Cosmin Olaroiu a winning send-off at Baniyas on Saturday.

KALBA COME LATE TO THE PARTY

Kalba stunned Al Nasr to register their first win of the season in a 2-0 victory. Luis Leal scored the opener on 85 minutes and Wael Ayan found the net in injury time to take them to four points after 12 games in the Arabian Gulf League.

Al Nasr dominated play in the first half, with Helal Saeed, Brett Holman and Ibrahima Toure all going close. However, Kalba rode the storm and took the lead as Leal thumped a curling free kick into the top corner.

They then caught Nasr on the break, with Leal going on a mazy run before putting Ayan through to seal the win. In Ras al Khaimah, Ajman defeated Emirates 2-0.

apassela@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter at SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 15, 2014 04:00 AM

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