Pro League: Baniyas appoint Calderon

Baniyas have hired the World Cup veteran Gabriel Calderon to coach their team, but the Pro League side do not know if he will have the veteran forward, David Trezeguet, in his squad.

Gabriel Calderon has plenty of experience in the Middle East having coached previously in Saudi Arabia and Oman.
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ABU DHABI // Baniyas have hired the World Cup veteran Gabriel Calderon to coach their team, but the Pro League side do not know if he will have the veteran forward, David Trezeguet, in his squad.

Calderon, 51, led Saudi Arabia's qualification to the 2006 World Cup and played for Argentina in the 1982 and 1990 Fifa events. He will take control of the Abu Dhabi club tomorrow, after their league match away to Al Shabab.

Calderon also coached the Oman national team, in 2007/08, and led the Saudi clubs Al Ittihad and Al Hilal to domestic titles.

Despite leading the latter to the league and Crown Prince Cup last season, Calderon was dismissed in July following a 3-0 defeat to Ittihad in the first leg of the King's Cup of Champions.

"He has been around for a long time in the region and the club management felt he had the experience and was the best choice available to take over a team at this stage of the season," said Musaad Al Harthi, a team spokesman.

It is unclear whether Calderon will have Trezeguet at his disposal. The Frenchman, who was part of the winning side at the 1998 World Cup, is out tomorrow with a calf injury, but he also has said he wants his one-year contract with Baniyas terminated.

"We are still trying to persuade him to stay," Al Harthi said. "As it stands, nothing has changed. We hope we can come to an amicable settlement and Trezeguet can continue to stay in the club."

Trezeguet, 34, was the prize Baniyas recruit in the summer.

His contract with the club was thought to be worth as much as Dh9.1 million, but he has played in only four matches and has not scored a goal.

Calderon takes over from Jorvan Vieira, the Brazilian who was removed in late October following the team's poor start, managing only two draws against Ajman - one in the Etisalat Cup and one in the Pro League - in seven games.

Salem Al Orafi, a former Baniyas player and the technical director of the club, has led them to a 4-1 league victory over Emirates and two Etisalat Cup victories over Sharjah.

Al Orafi, in his last game, will travel to Shabab with a depleted squad. Four key players - Mohammed Fawzi, Amer Abdulrahman, Haboush Saleh and Ahmed Ali - are in the UAE Olympic team, who play Iraq in a London 2012 qualifier on Sunday.

In other games, Franky Vercauteren, the Al Jazira coach, has called on his team to give a full effort against the league's less-prominent sides.

Jazira, winners of the league and President's Cup double last season, have been held to draws by Emirates and Sharjah, and travel to the promoted side Ajman tonight.

"When I came here I was told that against little teams they have trouble," the Belgian said, using his fingers to signal quote marks around the word "little".

"Ajman is a difficult team to play with, particularly on their home pitch," the Belgian said. "They have a lot of hard-working players with good fighting spirit. … If you want to win against them, you have to match their fighting spirit."

Maradona may return for Emirates clash

Four days after his mother's funeral in Argentina, Diego Maradona may be in the dugout for Al Wasl on Friday when they resume Pro League play at Emirates.

The manager left the club shortly after Wasl's 1-0 Etisalat Cup defeat at Al Ain this past Saturday, but his mother reportedly died while her son was en route. She was 81.

Wasl topped Emirates 3-0 in a cup game in September.