'Hickersberger wanted his salary doubled'

Even as the Austrian is linked to a Qatar move, Al Wahda official says the outgoing coach's demands were high as Boloni is touted as a suitable replacement.

One overseas player who will be staying at Al Wahda is Fernando Baiano, left, the Brazilian striker and the Pro League top scorer in 2009/10. He has two years left on his deal.
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ABU DHABI // Josef Hickersberger, who led Al Wahda to the Pro League title, left because he wanted the club to double his salary, according to Khaled Awadh, the deputy chief executive officer. The revelation comes after Hickersberger said on Monday that the club had being unwilling to extend his contract.

"We were happy to continue with him after leading us to the league title, but his demands were pretty high and we know the reason. It is because he had already signed with the Qatari club Al Sadd," said Awadh. Al Sadd won their domestic league for the 11th time this season yet failed to go beyond the group stage of the Asian Champions League under Cosmin Olaroiu, their Romanian coach. Hickersberger "didn't want to stay as he already had a contract signed, so he put up a sum that meant we couldn't keep him", Awadh said. "This is not unusual from a coach after having success with a team. But our plans for next season and the Club World Cup will remain the same with whoever takes charge."

Laszlo Boloni, the Romanian who led Al Jazira to second place in the league in 2007-2008, has emerged as a leading candidate after Sheikh Saeed bin Zayed, the Wahda chairman, named him as a possible replacement for Hickersberger. Boloni resigned from Standard Liege, the Belgian club, in February and has also been linked with Hajduk Split, the Croatian side. Awadh said: "Boloni's name was mentioned by the club chairman but nothing has been finalised. Obviously finding a replacement for Hickersberger is now the priority and the technical committee will come up with some names soon. I can't say Boloni is a candidate as of now."

Joining Hickersberger in leaving the club is Pinga, the Brazilian midfielder. He declined a two-year extension to his contract in favour of a move to Al Ahli, the Dubai club who won the league in 2008-09. "We offered him a two-year contract but he also wanted more money along with a three-year contract," said Awadh without revealing the sum Pinga had demanded. "Pinga has done a good job for us in the past, but we made him an offer and it was up to him to accept it or not.

"These matters are not new for us. We will go about doing our business to find suitable replacements to prepare for an important season ahead. The coming season is going to be a lot different and our approach will not just be about retaining the league title. "It is a difficult task when you have to concentrate in three domestic competitions, the Club World Cup (CWC) and the Asian Champions League. The CWC will be on top of our agenda as we will be carrying the hopes of a nation." @Email:apassela@thenational.ae