By Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter www.gulfnews.com
Dubai: Incoming coach Ivan Hasek has reiterated that hard work and team spirit will be the two elements that will determine his second reign with five-time champions Al Ahli.
“Everyone thinks we have a team that can be champions. But for this is secondary. What is more important for me is to have a team that can take pressure in their stride, and for this we need hard work and team spirit,” Hasek told Gulf News before leaving for a three-week training camp to the Czech Republic and Austria on Tuesday.
“I may have been away but I have watched many of the Al Ahli matches on television. I know that they were not working together as a unit. There were good players but the cohesion was missing. I did not see the teamwork.
“My aim is to ensure this aspect creeps in first, whether it is the stars in the team or the substitutes or the foreign players…all need to have this one single goal,” the 47-year-old Hasek added.
“Finishing eighth on two successive occasions is not something we can be proud of, considering the team we have. This is unacceptable as Al Ahli is a big club.”
This is the Czech’s second reign with the Red Devils. He began a similar re-moulding of the squad after being handed over the reins mid-season in December 2007. One year of hard work resulted in Al Ahli winning the inaugural version of the professional league, after which Hasek departed and took over the Football Association of the Czech Republic as its national team head coach and president.
And he foresees his second stint in Dubai as even more challenging. “I think the first round was easy for me,” he quipped.
“This time it is going to be more difficult. Everybody thinks it will be easy but that is not the case as there is too much work before us. We need to be the best team this season and we ought to start now. We need to go step by step to construct and develop a new side and try to win something in return to boost our supporters’ confidence,” Hasek said.
With Brazilian professionals Grafite and Jaja already in the line-up, Al Ahli’s pre-season started last Sunday with light training at the club.
On Tuesday the team left for a one week physical conditioning to the Czech Republic that will be followed by another two weeks in Austria before returning to Dubai by the end of the month.
Following a short break of three to four days, the squad will reassemble and embark on the second leg of preparations to Australia where they will also play five friendly matches.