Dubai: Taking over Shabab Ahli five games into the season is no excuse not to push for the title, according to Rodolfo Arruabarrena.
The Argentine and former Boca Juniors boss replaced Jose Luis Sierra at the weekend after the Chilean only picked up six points from a possible 15 from the first five games of the Arabian Gulf League.
Despite the fact that Shabab Ahli are now seventh, seven points off joint-leaders Sharjah and Al Ain, Arruabarrena said there was no reason why the club couldn’t turn things around.
“Taking the job in the middle of the season does not relieve me of the pressure to win and compete,” said the former Al Wasl coach, who led the Yellows to a second and third-place league finish over the past two seasons, before losing both domestic cup finals over the last two years.
“I don’t think it would be an excuse for any negative results, every coach wants to be in charge from the start of the season, but not much of this campaign has passed.
“It’s not big, it’s compensable,” he said of Sharjah and Al Ain’s lead. “I’ve seen most of the league matches and the teams are close.
“We’re not thinking about the numbers or scoring a certain number of points to win the title. The team is in a late order but we’ll play until the last game.”
Al Ahli won two of the past five Arabian Gulf League titles under Cosmin Olaroiu in 2013/14 and 2015/16, even reaching the Asian Champions League final in 2015.
However, since they were merged with Al Shabab and Dubai Club last summer, they finished fifth last season under Mahdi Ali and have started this season slowly under Sierra.
Arruabarrena will now be tasked with a turnaround similar to what he achieved at Al Wasl.
“Shabab Ahli is one of the clubs that any coach would wish to coach. I know most of the players, despite having not trained them, from my time at Al Wasl.
“They have many excellent players, and now we have to work hard to know more about them and their potential.
“The main thing is to work hard as a group to show what everyone expects. With the spirit of one team, we will achieve what is required. I hope to win the championship and achieve the results we dream of.”
Shabab Ahli were at home to Ajman late on Sunday for Arruabarrena’s first game in charge and are away to Dibba in the league on Friday.