Gabriel Calderon bemoans Al Wasl mentality: ‘Many players give the minimum’

Wasl coach questions some of his players' commitment as they have now gone four matches without a win.
Al Wasl manager Gabriel Calderon has criticised the mentality of some of his players. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Al Wasl manager Gabriel Calderon has criticised the mentality of some of his players. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // Gabriel Calderon says his Al Wasl squad need to improve their mentality if they are to secure a top-three finish in the Arabian Gulf League.

The seven-time UAE champions, whose fifth-place finish in 2010 represents their best since last lifting the title in 2007, wasted a golden opportunity to move third on Saturday night when they were held to a disjointed 1-1 draw at home to relegation-threatened Sharjah.

The result lifted Wasl to fourth in the table, above Al Wahda on the head-to-head rule, but keeps them one point off Al Nasr with three rounds remaining. It also stretched Wasl’s winless streak to four matches — a sequence in which they have taken three points from a possible 12.

Wasl looked favourites for third when they defeated Fujairah 3-2 in February, but have struggled since. Calderon is clearly concerned by the commitment of some of his squad.

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“The biggest problem for me honestly is to change the mentality,” he said. “Because we have too many players happy to win two or three matches and not continue the same way. I’m working every day, every day I’m fighting for many players who give the minimum, who don’t like training.

“I have a lot of experience as a player and as a coach and to take the championship you need a different mentality. Until now I’m fighting, but have not arrived at my target. Because if the player doesn’t want it, there’s no change.

“But to change now is difficult. After one and a half years I have many players who have not changed their mentality. To stay in the top four you need more than 12 players with a fantastic mentality. If not, you will not arrive there — it’s impossible. I continue working and I wait for next season with the committee to analyse everything to prepare a stronger team.”​

Calderon joined Wasl three months into last season and guided the club to a credible sixth-placed finish. He has built an attacking side who scored the third most goals in the division for the 2014/15 campaign.

However, recent results have been blighted by individual mistakes, with the Argentine coach understandably keen for the team to sharpen up defensively. He also defended striker Caio’s performance against Sharjah, saying both he and fellow forward Fabio de Lima, who grabbed Wasl’s only goal, need more help from their teammates.

Wasl replaced Edgar Bruno with Rogerinho in the winter transfer market — a decision that, at the time, Galderon did not agree with — and have not been as prolific. Rogerinho has a solitary goal in eight league appearances; Bruno had struck seven times in the first half of the campaign and as such remains Wasl’s second top scorer, behind De Lima’s 18.

“A team cannot wait all the time for one player to score a goal,” Calderon said. “I need more. It’s not possible for only Fabio to score. I had Edgar, who continues to be second top scorer with seven goals. This is difficult because, if a team wants to win, they need more than one player, someone with different qualities to score more goals.”

Wasl next face Wahda on Friday, a match that could prove decisive in the race for third. Calderon, though, says his team will not be out of contention if they do not pick up the three points in Abu Dhabi.

“This is the most important moment in the season,” he said. “The team needs to put its best level, but you look now at my team, we have the limit. We’ll give our maximum, but we continue to have a chance. Because if we beat Al Wahda we come back, if we draw we also have a chance. But there’s no more place for mistakes, because another team will win and move up.”

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Published: April 17, 2016 04:00 AM


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