Zlatko Dalic on brink of World Cup glory with Croatia — just four years after coaching in Saudi Arabia

Former Al-Hilal coach Zlatko Dalic will take charge of Croatia in the World Cup final. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018

Zlatko Dalic on brink of World Cup glory with Croatia — just four years after coaching in Saudi Arabia

  • Dalic led Al-Hilal to cup glory in 2013
  • 'All the best next Sunday' tweet the Riyadh giants

LONDON: Al-Hilal are rooting for their former coach to topple France and pull off an unlikely World Cup win on Sunday.
Zlatko Dalic has choreogrpahed Croatia’s fairytale run to the final of the tournament in Russia yet just four years ago he was in charge of Al-Hilal. His period in Riyadh is clearly fondly remembered.
“Congratulations to @DalicZlatko on qualifying for the #WorldCup final,” read a tweet from the club Twitter’s account. “All the best next Sunday.”
In 2013, Dalic was promoted mid-season from managing the club's B team when Antoine Kombouare left and he won the Saudi Prince Cup and finished runners-up in the Saudi Pro League, but his contract was not extended that summer and he was replaced by Sami Al-Jaber.
Dalic won 11 of his 18 games in charge and left the King Fahd International Stadium with a win percentage of 61. He went on to coach in Al-Ain for three years before landing the Croatia job last year.
“Zlatko remains very popular there,” said Khalid Ghadin, who works for the Saudi Professional League. “When he left Hilal he had many lucrative offers from clubs smaller than Hilal, but he rejected them all. It was the same when he left Al-Ain. He always said he would not be guided by money, and now he is coach of his national team.”

Dalic also acknowledged the support he has received from the Gulf in a tweet.


Simona Halep positive despite Dubai defeat by Belinda Bencic

Updated 21 February 2019

Simona Halep positive despite Dubai defeat by Belinda Bencic

  • Former world No.1 blames three-set loss on tiredness after nine matches in 13 days.
  • Halep has high hopes for the rest of 2019, saying her game is in good shape.

LONDON: Simona Halep is still certain a good year lies in store for her despite losing to Belinda Bencic in the Dubai quarterfinals.
The Romanian former world No. 1 was the favorite to win her second title in the emirate but ran out of steam as her Swiss opponent ran out 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 winner.
It was Halep’s ninth match in just 13 days and she admitted tiredness had caught up with her.
“It was really difficult physically. I was tired,” the world No. 2 said.

Bencic came from a set down to beat the favorite in the last-eight encounter in Dubai. (AFP) 

“After the second set, I felt like I’m getting cramping a little bit. It’s normal. I was sweating a lot.”
While, her fatigue was clear for all to see, Halep was not using it as an excuse, admitting Bencic, who has now beaten her in two of their three matches, was the deserved winner.
“Yeah, she played well. She played very well. In the end, she was a little bit stronger,” the Romanian said.
Having lost in the Qatar final last weekend and failed to make the last-four in Dubai you might think Halep would be disappointed with her Middle East stint. She was, however, far from glum and revealed she is looking forward to landing more titles to add to her collection during the rest of the year.

Cheerio from Halep after her defeat to the Swiss. (AFP) 

“I think were three good weeks. Tough weeks. A lot of tension, a lot of pressure. Also the Fed Cup,” she said.
“I take only positive things. I had great matches. My level is good. Physically also I’m good. But day by day I had to play, so is not easy.
“I’m confident for the next tournaments.”