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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 9 March 2021

New Al Ain coach still a mystery

Confusion reigns after the press conference to reveal the identity of the next manager yesterday was postponed indefinitely.

Confusion reigns as to the identity of Al Ain's next manager after a press conference scheduled for yesterday to officially unveil the new man, who was widely believed to be Abdulhameed al Mishtiki, was postponed indefinitely. Al Mishtiki, an Emirati, was the club's Under 17 coach before taking charge of the first team as caretaker manager at the end of last season.

He was undefeated in five games, including a famous 2-0 home win over Sepahan of Iran in the Asian Champions League (ACL). Al Mishtiki replaced Toninho Cerezo, who was dismissed after a 3-2 loss to Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan in the ACL on April 13, which meant Al Ain failed to progress to the knockout stages. The Brazilian was the second manager to be fired by Al Ain last season, following Winfried Schaefer, the German, who was given his marching orders in December. Al Ain's chances of winning any silverware had already ended when al Mishtiki took over, yet he had to fight off the challenge of Baniyas to finish third in the league and guided the club to a strong finish as they won three games in a row before ending the season with a draw against Sharjah.

The third-placed finish earned them a play-off spot to qualify for the 2011 ACL group stages. Meanwhile, Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, has denied rumours claiming he has been offered a lucrative package to quit the English Premier League team and become the coach of the UAE national side. On Sunday, Mohammed Khalfan al Rumaithi, the president of the Football Association, said that the newspaper reports had no substance.

And Benitez was quoted in the Liverpool Echo as saying: "I was very surprised to read about this story, but it seems more and more as if they [rumours] keep happening from somewhere. "I am very happy here in Liverpool. I have always been happy and I want to stay here for a long time - if it is possible."  apassela@thenational.ae

Published: May 25, 2010 04:00 AM

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