Al Ain deny rumours manager Zoran Mamic is to be replaced: ‘He is a great addition to the team’

Al Ain have underlined their support for manager Zoran Mamic following rumours his position at the club was under threat.

Al Ain manager Zoran Mamic reacts during the Asia Champions League first-leg, last-16 match against Esteghlal at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran, 22 May 2017. Abedin Taherkenareh / EPA
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Al Ain have underlined their support for manager Zoran Mamic following rumours his position at the club was under threat.

The future of the Croat, who succeeded compatriot Zlatko Dalic in February, has been subject of much speculation in recent weeks, with Al Ain concluding a second successive domestic season without any silverware.

The Garden City side, 12-time UAE champions, finished a hugely disappointing fourth in the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League, one place outside the qualification spots for next year’s Asian Champions League. Al Ain were second in the table when Mamic was appointed.

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Last year’s Champions League runners-up also face an uphill task to make the quarter-finals of the competition this time around, after they lost 1-0 on Monday to Iran’s Esteghlal in the first leg of their last-16 encounter. The return leg takes place at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium next Monday.

Yet despite the recent struggles, Ghanim Al Hajeri, chairman of Al Ain Football Club, told the club’s website the Al Ain management are fully behind Mamic, while also denying rumours linking players to moves away from the club.

“There is no truth to what is circulating recently about the departure of Zoran Mamic and the transfer of a number of players to competitor clubs,” Al Hajeri said. “Our contract with the coach extends for a season and a half, but rumours remain part of the game.

“There are those who seek to influence Al Ain by spreading rumours of the coach’s departure and the transfer of some players, but we are very satisfied and happy with what Zoran has given and expect more. And I believe that everyone including the management, players, administration, fans and all members of this club believe the coach is a great addition to the team.”

Al Hajeri confirmed the management are waiting for Mamic’s end-of-season report before deciding their transfer policy this summer. Brazilian Douglas, the much-maligned striker who was not registered for the second half of the league campaign, has impressed in training, although the club do have offers from teams in the UAE and around the region.

Colombian winger Danilo Asprilla could move on as well having attracted bids from Turkey and China. It is anticipated, too, that Nasser Al Shamrani, the Saudi Arabia striker on loan from Al Hilal, will return to his parent club. Meanwhile, a selection of Al Ain’s Emiratis may be allowed to leave following the performance towards the end of the season of the academy players, such as Mohammed Khalfan and Saeed Juma.

“It is no secret that the coach agreed with the management about a detailed report that includes the needs of the team over the next phase and the quality and positions of the foreign players” Al Hajeri said. “It will be linked to the team’s targets for next season, whether locally or in the Asian Champions League.

“The good level of performance by all the players Zoran promoted lately from the academy has reinforced the coach’s desire to decide not to renew the contracts of some players and instead select local players from the club’s youth system. This is an element that reassures the management with regards to the coach’s decision-making.”

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