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Apr 23, 2011

O'Leary fired by Al-Ahli

Al-Ahli have sacked manager David O'Leary only eight months into his tenure in Dubai, after the former Leeds and Aston Villa boss only managed to win six of his 15 league games in charge.

O'Leary, 52, joined Al-Ahli last August as the UAE league side aimed to increase their profile and attract larger crowds.

The Dubai club also secured a massive coup when they signed Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, but they have been unable to mount a title challenge.

O'Leary had become increasingly unpopular among the club's fans after suffering back-to-back losses against rivals Al-Wasl in February.

The former Arsenal and Ireland defender leaves Al-Ahli seventh in the league table and the club have named former Al-Ain manager Abdul Hamid Al Mistaki as caretaker coach.

"We have decided to sack David O'Leary and his assistant Roy Aitken and now Ahmad Al Mistaki who was coaching Al Ain will take over until the season finishes, after that we will decide on how to take things forward," Al-Ahli media officer Fekry Ibrahim said.

"It wasn't going too well with O'Leary and the board took a decision to end his contract. Ahmad has been at training and knows the boys, so the club is looking forward to working with him now."

Though he has struggled himself with Al-Ain, who have been battling at the foot of the table despite finishing third last season, Al Mistaki insistsed he is confident of doing a good job for his new employers.

"I'm not a stranger to Al-Ahli club and neither I am a stranger to the players. I have known many of them because of my previous job with the academy. Ahli is a club I have followed for long. I have big ambitions for Al Ahli until the end of the year. We want to go higher in the league and get to a better position and we have a clear vision.

"I have a team that is talented and the ball now is in the players' court. We have to change our results and work together to achieve victories. We have a few good players in the side and we need to focus. Ahli have worked hard, but if we concentrate over the next few games, it will be good for us."

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