Romanian football coach Ilie Balaci arrived early morning yesterday to give the final touches to his contract with Dubai's Al Ahli Club.

Balaci is to sign as the coach for the senior football team for the new season. Sources in the media announced that Balaci was presumably signed for a one-year contract fee of $300,000.

This amount was $150,000 as the signing fee and the remaining $150,000 as monthly salaries for the year.

Balaci will succeed former coach Srecko Juricic of Croatia, who was sacked last week following a poor run by Al Ahli last season.

The club put the blame of poor form in their team's inability to successfully defend their President's Cup title. This was further aggravated when Al Ahli finished third in the UAE League and were ousted in the semi-finals of the Super Cup.

Balaci is not a stranger as he has trained extensively in the GCC region. He was the Al Ain and Al Shabab coach in the UAE in the early 90s leading both clubs to the league title.

The Romanian coach also trained Al Hilal and Al Nasr of Saudi Arabia and won titles with them as well.

In Qatar too, Balaci boasted a similar record with Al Sadd, thus drawing the nickname in the GCC countries as the 'Championship Hunter.

Al Ahli Club's intent in bringing in this high-profile coach is to have a glimpse of former glory which has evaded them for the past 23 years.

Meanwhile, Al Ahli Club has decided to host the 18th GCC Under-18 football tournament from August 18-29.

The draw ceremony will be held next Wednesday at the club's premises in Dubai.

The six GCC clubs which won Under-18 titles in their countries are Al Hala (Bahrain), Al Khaboura (Oman), Al Ahli (Saudi Arabia), Al Sadd (Qatar), Al Qadsiya (Kuwait) and Al Ahli (UAE).

Abdul Aziz Al Atiya, the chairman of the GCC organising committee, held a meeting yesterday with the Al Ahli club officials to discuss with them the final preparations to host the tournament.