Al Ain confirm Quique exit, Dalic takes the reins

Martyn Thomas 17:48 08/03/2014
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  • Welcome aboard: Dalic meets Al Ain first-team players ahead of training.

    Just three days after Al Ain insisted Zlatko Dalic’s arrival had no bearing on the future of Quique Sanchez Flores, the Croatian replaced him as head coach until the end of the season.

    Dalic, who took training at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday night, was officially unveiled as the club’s technical supervisor last Wednesday in a move widely interpreted as weakening Sanchez Flores’ position.

    The Spaniard was expected to remain in charge for this week’s AFC Champions League trip to Jeddah to face Al Ittihad, but instead what had seemed inevitable for some time was finally confirmed.

    Sanchez Flores leaves the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) champions by mutual consent, less than six months into a two-year contract.

    “I and Al Ain Club have come to a crossroads in our relationship,” Sanchez Flores said on Saturday night. “Perhaps it seemed unacceptable to lose about four or five games during the last stage. The decision of my departure is the best in these circumstances, but I cannot hide my happiness to work with the team during the last few months.”

    He added: “I wish the best for Al Ain in the next phase, I also thank all the players for their wonderful efforts they have made during the last stage, and I’m gonna get some rest before thinking about the next step which might be Europe.”

    The former Al Ahli coach paid the price for a disappointing run of form in the league since the turn of the year that has seen the Boss pick up just nine points from seven games and slip into the bottom half.

    There had been some reason for cheer in the cup competitions with the Boss reaching the final of the President’s Cup and making a victorious start to their AFC Champions League campaign.

    However, the 49-year-old was never able to win over the club’s supporters having replaced Jorge Fossati at the end of September and leaves the Garden City having won just six of 16 AGL games in charge.

    “The decision to terminate the contract of coach Quique does not reduce the efficiency that led Al Ain to the final of the President’s Cup, and the first win in the Asian Champions League,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan, Al Ain chairman, said.

    “Quique put a good imprint on the team after taking over the reins of technical matters, following a bad phase of results early this season. But in football things like this happen and the problem is that the results in the league were not good, unlike the success in the President’s Cup.”

    Sheikh Abdullah added: “Differences in view naturally happen in football and even between a family’s sons may have those differences. We wish Quique all success in his career and life.”

    Sheikh Abdullah said Dalic’s experience of football in the Gulf region – the Croat having previously coached Al Faisaly and Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia – had been an important factor in his appointment.