Dubai: Ajman coach Abdul Wahab Abdul Qader reminded fans that the repercussions of his side’s surprise 2-1 Etisalat Cup final win over Al Jazira on Tuesday will take time to reach their league form.
The Orange Brigade ended a 29-year wait for major silverware and avenged their 2010 Etisalat Cup final defeat to Al Jazira, when first half goals from Founeke Sy and Boris Kabi cancelled out Ricardo Oliveira’s early opener. With Ajman tenth in the 14-team Etisalat Pro League, 14 points behind fourth placed Al Jazira with two games remaining, it was stunning upset from the league minnows, which threatens to further destabalise Abu Dhabi’s sleeping giant.
Abdul Qader was quick to point out that the victory was just the first step in Ajman’s long road to acceptance as one of the UAE’s top sides.
“Whenever any team wins a trophy of course it gives a boost to winning mentality,” said Abdul Qader, when asked if the cup win was the start of new era. “But as for the league we still have a long way to go. Big teams have big support financially and still can’t achieve league success.”
As one of the longest serving current coaches at a UAE club, albeit split over two spells for a duration of five years, the Iraqi coach got Ajman promoted from the second division in 2008 and kept them in the inaugural Etisalat Pro League the following year, finishing ninth.
He was then replaced by Ze Mario, who promptly got the club relegated but Abdul Qader returned to re-qualify Ajman with a Division Two title and Federation Cup double in 2011. Last season was the Orange Brigade’s best year in the newly rebranded professional top flight, finishing seventh. Now they have two matches away to Al Ahli and at home to Dibba Fujairah in order to equal that record, but it requires two more wins and other results to go their way.
Abdul Qader said: “Now we are 10th on 29 points. Al Dhafra are ninth on 30, Al Wasl are eighth on 31 and Al Wahda are on 35 points. We have two games and hopefully we will finish the season on a high.
“Stability at the club has been very important because I know all the players well and have a good relationship with the board. I know the areas of the team we need to strengthen and we are now discussing which players will come in next year, when the team will hopefully get even better.”
Of his side’s cup win, he said: “We tried to score first but I had told the players what to do in the event of receiving an early goal. Thankfully they did the job. In the second half, Al Jazira tried to attack but we all defended.
“All the players did a great job and have given a great gift back to the people of Ajman by winning the club’s first trophy since 1984 [The President’s Cup 1-0 versus Al Nasr]. To end a 30-year wait against a big club like Al Jazira makes me very happy,” he added.