Javier Aguirre targets ACL, backs Jorge Valdivia and Denilson to raise Al Wahda standard

Javier Aguirre made his first comments on Sunday evening after being introduced as Al Wahda manager, saying he wanted to return the club to the Asian Champions League.

ABU DHABI // Javier Aguirre has set his sights on qualifying for the Asian Champions League as his first objective after being officially presented as the new coach of Al Wahda on Sunday evening.

The former Mexico, Japan and Atletico Madrid manager has already been acquainted with his first-team squad and last Wednesday began pre-season training in preparation for this season's Arabian Gulf League campaign.

“Our main goal is to reach the ACL. I think this is really important,” the 56-year-old Mexican told media at the Al Nahyan Stadium.

“I know there were problems last season – having two coaches – but I am sure Wahda are a team who always play at a high standard.

“The history of Wahda shows they are a really good club. We are preparing the team for performing better.”

To bring back ACL games to the capital club Wahda would either have to win the league, finish runners-up, or win the President’s Cup. They finished fourth last season and suffered a first-round exit from the cup.

Aguirre, whose Japan side were eliminated from January’s Asian Cup at the quarter-final stage by the UAE national team, said the standard of the AGL is improving each year and is in turn attracting a higher calibre of coach and player.

“I am happy to be at Al Wahda club. This is an opportunity for me to grow as a coach,” he said.

“I had the chance to be in the UAE 30 years ago and now I am coaching Wahda. The AGL is growing and even European clubs are familiar with it. There are many players who want to play in UAE.

“Each year, more players and coaches are coming here with good experience. The local players are developing as well. I suffered a big defeat with Japan against the UAE, so I know how good they are, and it wouldn’t have been possible without a strong league.”

Aguirre, who also lists Spanish clubs Real Zaragoza and Espanyol among his former clubs, said he was excited to begin work with two of the club’s new South American recruits.

“I watched the Copa America final. Valdivia is one of the most important transfers we’ve made. He has a lot of experience. He will be very good for Wahda,” Aguirre said of the 31-year-old Chile midfielder Jorge Valdivia, who the club said last week they are poised to sign now his Copa America commitments are finished.

“Denilson is also a very good player. I remember playing against him when I was Atletico Madrid coach and he was an Arsenal player.”

apasella@thenational.ae

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