Arruabarrena left ruing missed chance

Dubai: Al Wasl’s coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena was left ruing a missed chance after failing to come away with the trophy despite enjoying a one-man advantage against Al Ain in the final of the 2018 President’s Cup on Thursday.

Eventual champions Al Ain were leading 2-0 when they were reduced to ten after opening goalscorer Esmail Ahmad was shown a second yellow in the 77th minute. The Cheetahs managed to pull one back during injury period, and then ran out of time as Al Ain held out for a deserving 2-1 win and their second trophy of the season.

Al Wasl had ended 4-1 victors when the two teams last met in the President’s Cup final in 2007.

“All of us knew this would be a tough final against a team that is perhaps the best we have played against. The key lay in cutting out spaces and playing close so that Al Ain didn’t enjoy possession that they normally do. But we made minor mistakes and were made to pay dearly with those two goals,” Arruabarrena told media late on Thursday.

“We created chances of our own, but we were too distracted as we approached the Al Ain penalty area. We were badly missing that final touch on the ball that could have fetched us goals,” he added.

The 43-year-old Arruabarrena — the youngest coach this season in the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) — used to play for his native Argentina as a left back. He spent most of his playing career with Boca Juniors while also enjoying a significant spell in Spain with Villarreal.

He began his coaching career with Tigre in 2011 before switching on to Nacional. His big break came in 2014 when he was handed over the reins at Diego Maradona’s old club, Boca Juniors. After a couple of years, Arruabarrena was lured to the UAE in 2016 to guide the fortunes of Al Wasl.

‘The Cheetahs’ ended runners-up to Al Jazira at the end of Arruabarrena’s first season, and slipped down by a place to finish behind Al Ain and Al Wahda this year. With his contract coming to an end, Arruabarrena is uncertain whether he will continue at the Al Zabeel club.

“I have still not renewed my contract. I need to sit with the club management and see where we both need to be as far as challenges and aspirations go for the future,” he said.

“This doesn’t mean that I am unhappy with the club or my players. It is just that don’t want to be at a place or be associated with a project that I don’t enjoy or don’t like being a part of,” he stressed.