Dubai: Shabab Ahli coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena is wary of a resurgence from his former side Al Wasl ahead of Wednesday’s Arabian Gulf League fixture after they sacked their coach Gustavo Quinteros over the weekend.
Quinteros replaced Arruabarrena at Al Wasl over the summer but was dismissed following Al Wasl’s 3-1 derby defeat at home to Al Nasr last Friday, after picking up just two wins from the first six games of the season.
Arruabarrena, meanwhile, left Qatar’s Al Rayyan after picking up just four wins from the first eight games before returning to Dubai to take charge of Shabab Ahli last week, replacing Jose Luis Sierra, who had lost three of his first five.
The Argentine former Boca Juniors boss won his first league game in charge of Shabab Ahli away to Dibba on Friday 1-0 but he isn’t now relishing a reunion in his second game at home from 7.30pm on Wednesday against Al Wasl, with whom he finished second and third in the league over the past two seasons before losing both cup finals last term.
“The results of Al Wasl do not negate the strength of the team and the excellence of its players,” said Arruabarrena. “I expect a change in the coach to positively affect the team as this usually happens in football.
“Al Wasl includes players of experience and foreigners of a high level of technical competence. I know them well.
“We are not underestimating any competitor, no matter how concentrated the schedule is we have to play all games with strength and focus if we want to continue the victories.
“After returning from the Dibba game we focused on the tactical aspects more and sought to equip the team with the required picture to meet Al Wasl.
“Sharjah drew and Al Ain lost in the last round,” he added of the league’s previous first and second placed sides (Al Jazira leapt from third to joint top with Sharjah after beating Al Ain 2-1 win away on Saturday, while fourth placed Al Wahda lost 4-2 at home to Al Dhafra). “So we shouldn’t stand there too much, we must continue to work and improve the performance and results of the team in the next phase so that we can proceed further in the rankings. The current season has strong convergence in the levels between teams and no side is weak.”
Hassan Al Abdouli, who has replaced Quinteros at Al Wasl as an interim, said: “Shabab Ahli are well known to us, and we are well known to them since their coach was in charge here last season.
“We will do our best to deliver a performance that enables us to win and harvest three points in order to return to the tone of victories that have been absent from the team for a while.
“Al Wasl is my home and I don’t care about the position as much as I care about working hard to overcome this difficult phase to bring the team back to the level they deserve.”