Al Wahda manager Javier Aguirre says he hopes Cosmin Olaroiu remains at Al Ahli because he wants to test himself against the best.
The vastly experienced Mexican was named on a three-man shortlist for coach of the year at Saturday’s night’s 2015/16 Arabian Gulf League awards at Emirates Palace, alongside Olaroiu and Al Ain’s Zlatko Dalic.
Aguirre, who helped Wahda to third in his debut campaign in the UAE, eventually lost out to Olaroiu, with the Romanian collecting the prize having guided Ahli to the league title — his second in three seasons with the Dubai club.
Ahli clinched the trophy with one round to spare and in the process set a new record for the professional era, with 66 points. Al Ain finished runners-up.
However, there has been speculation that Olaroiu could leave Ahli this summer, despite having signed a two-year extension to his contract last summer. His current deal runs until 2018.
The club have denied Olaroiu will be on the move, yet the former Al Ain manager has not completely committed his future when pressed by the media.
Speaking after the awards in Abu Dhabi, Aguirre said he wanted Olaroiu — “a top, top name” — and Dalic to stay, with the Croat expected to leave Al Ain this summer.
“Sitting between these two guys is for me an honour,” said Aguirre, who in March signed a one-year extension to his Wahda contract. “I’m really to be proud to be here alongside them and be among these big names in this league. For me that’s a trophy.
“I would encourage him to stay at Ahli; of course, both of them. They have to. We have a very good coach who has come in at Al Shabab too — Fred Rutten, I used to play against him with Schalke and Atletico Madrid. Big names are coming here.
“Henk ten Cate [at Al Jazira] is also is a big, big name. It’s good for the league and also for me as a coach to share moments with these guys. It’s good for me to test myself against the likes of Cosmin. I’m 57 and I’m still hungry. Hopefully it will be me collecting the coach of the year trophy next year.”
Wahda did not go home empty-handed on Saturday, though, with Sebastian Tagliabue named foreign player of the year and Mohammed Al Akberi voted Under-21 player of the year.