Henk ten Cate will be forced to continue to dip into the Al Jazira academy with the frustrated Dutchman claiming he has “absolutely no possibility” to freshen up his fatigued and injury-ravaged squad before tomorrow’s UAE transfer deadline.
Ten Cate looked anything but regal, cutting a forlorn figure at his press conference at Emirates Palace yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s rearranged Arabian Gulf League fixture against city rivals Al Wahda.
The Dutchman was uncharacteristically curt when quizzed about whether he would make any additions to his squad ahead of the deadline – with the Pride of Abu Dhabi’s players exhausted by a hectic festive period of football.
This included reaching the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup against real Madrid, as well as six players being away with the UAE at the Gulf Cup in Kuwait. Jazira have played twice as many games as rivals since November 30, with tomorrow’s game their ninth in 39 days.
“I really don’t know. I don’t have a clue. This is one of our least problems, it’s the only thing I can say,” Ten Cate said about the possibility of arrivals at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
When asked if he would like to bring any more players in, Ten Cate laughed, before adding “no”. When pushed if that meant he was satisfied with his squad, he added: “Also no. Every coach wants the best players to work with. It should be possible and here in this club we have absolutely no possibilities.
“It is absolutely one of the reasons why I will depend more on the academy. It’s not that the players don’t have quality, but they are very young. They don’t have experience. They need time.
“If you look at Mohamed Al Attas, he’s dead. You cannot blame the young kids, he is working his socks off.
“It’s like driving a car and you have no gasoline anymore. You slowly will stop, so we have to be very careful with those young players, play them too much and they break down. So we have to be really careful, we are watching their progress and we will take decisions on the spot.”
French international and former Los Blancos midfield anchor Lassana Diarra was given a free transfer by the club last month, following a lackustre spell in the Emirates which included just five appearances since a summer switch from Marseille.
His exit leaves a spot in Jazira’s four-man foreign quota, although that could be filled by talented teenage Egyptian midfielder Abdalla Ramadan. The 19-year-old academy project is highly thought of at the club and made his senior debut off the substitute’s bench in the 4-1 loss to Mexico’s Pachuca in the Club World Cup third-place play-off on December 16.
The future of Uzbekistan winger Sardor Rashidov is also uncertain, having failed to convince since arriving in the summer alongside impressive Brazilian forward Romarinho from now defunct Qatari side El Jaish.
Despite leading the club to the President’s Cup and AGL titles in his first two seasons in Abu Dhabi, annoyed Ten Cate revealed his job is becoming “more difficult every day”, although he refuted suggestions from reports in the Egyptian press that he could be set for a move there.
Ten Cate, who’s original contract at Jazira was set to expire this summer, although it remains unclear if he has extended it, added: “I’ve had a lot of offers. No, I’m joking. I haven’t met with anyone, this is the honest truth. I have no verbal or written offers.
“I am concentrating on my work here which is hard and difficult enough, especially at this moment of time. It’s not getting easier, it’s getting more difficult every day.”
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