This week our columnist ponders the future for the now former Al Ahli manager, and Abu Dhabi’s racing dreams.
Many would say that the return of Jose Mourinho to Chelsea has been the biggest story in football for the past couple of weeks. While 250 media crews may have turned out to Stamford Bridge, we’ve also had our own little drama here in the UAE. Perhaps not on the same scale, but the resignation of Quique Sanchez Flores from Al Ahli was a shock. Instead of 250 media crews, however, it was more like five. Football journalists were called to a routine press conference at the Rashid Stadium and many of us believed it was to announce Flores signing for a further two years with the club. Having picked up both the Etisalat and President’s Cup in the past two years and finishing second in the Pro-League last season, Flores was doing a very good job. After overseeing an investment in new players this summer – including the formerly most expensive teenager in English football, Hugo Viana – the Spanish manager looked set to make a charge for the league title next season. Instead, however, Flores has called an end to his time in Dubai. He says he will take a break from football, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at a European football side next season. Monaco is on everyone’s lips. With endless pockets and an overhaul of playing staff, Flores, who shares the same agent as most of Monaco’s new signings, could well be heading to the south of France. If so, it’s very much Monaco’s gain and Al Ahli’s loss. A loss to the Pro-League too.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing may well be preparing for the next Volvo Ocean Race, but that’s not the only endurance race the capital is set to be a part of: Abu Dhabi Racing has announced its participation in the 24-hour Le Mans race this summer. The UAE’s Khaled Al Qubaisi and Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal will link up with an experienced European driver for the world famous endurance race. Le Mans has been held in the French town since 1923, with wins dominated by German teams for the past 50 years. Abu Dhabi will be hoping to make a big impact when they compete this year.
Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.
One more thing...
UAE basketball fans are in for a treat if they can get through summer. LA Lakers star man Kobe Bryant has announced he is heading to the UAE this September to hold a number of coaching clinics in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Bryant has played for the LA Lakers through his entire professional career and has five NBA titles to his name. It’s a slam-dunk for us.