Al Jazira boss Marcel Keizer looks to the future after the contract extension with the AGL Champions


The ambitious coach Marcel Keizer has marked his contract extension with an ominous message that “maybe next year can get better” for the reigning champions of the Arab golf league Al Jazira.

Keizer, 52, was rewarded last week with fresh conditions until June 2023 after leading his youthful Pride of Abu Dhabi squad to a third league title. There are already considerations of how a successful first defense in the club’s 47-year history can be designed.

“We need a few new players because if it stays that way it might not be good enough,” he told the media on a video call from his native Netherlands. “It’s also good that we have some competition in our own team.

“Let’s see what we can do with the foreign players. We haven’t made up our minds yet, of course.

“But we’re looking at the options we have to make the team better.

“I think if we bring in a few players, it’s good for the whole team. Because then everyone has a new challenge.

“What we did now was good. But maybe we can get better next year. “

He added: “We won the title, but every season in football is different. We first have to see what the team will look like when we start in the league.

“Can we get more foreigners or can we stay like last season? What about young players from the academy?

“We have to see now. The opponents are also very good clubs and teams.

“Are they going to buy other payers? We have to see.

“The only thing we can do is improve our game. Our game was very good for a long time last season.

“But there are other improvements. That is the challenge for us in the next season. “

Jazira has already secured the future of Serbian center-back Milos Kosanovic and South African midfielder Thulani Serero. Uncertainty surrounds the remainder of their four-player overseas odds, however.

Nigeria’s striker Imoh Ezekiel only signed a one-season deal in October 2020, and Curacao winger Brandley Kuwas didn’t join Al Nasr on short notice until January.

But all doubts about Keiser’s future have been dispelled in the last few days. The coveted ex-coach of Sporting Lisbon and Ajax admitted that he had received overtures elsewhere with his stay, which was originally supposed to end this summer.

“Yes, but that’s not important now,” he replied when asked about other offers. “I like to stay and that is the most important thing now.”

The future looks bright for Jazira too. An average age of 26.8 years in 2020/21, according to Wyscout, featured a team that has not yet reached its prime with four players – including hat-trick hero Ali Mabkhout – starting the UAE 5-1 friendly against Jordan ahead of the much-delayed resumption of 2022 World Cup qualifiers this week

“Al Jazira is famous for our academy,” said Keizer. “What you can see now is that our team is a very good mix.

“We had two foreigners, then there were two more. Then of course Ali [Khaseif] and Ali [Mabkhout].

“Then the young players who are already experienced because they are 21 or 22 years old.

“These guys did a great job last season. You get better every year.

“I expect them to get better next year too. Then come after [Abdulla] Idrees as a left-back and some even younger players who can show themselves in the training camp.

“This is very good for Al Jazira. Oumar Traore and [Mohammed] Rabii also has a lot of potential in the club. “

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