SLAVKO Matic felt a sense of pride as he watched last week’s keenly-fought match between Al Ahli and Umm Salal. During his stint as Ahli’s Under-19 and reserve team coach (from 2010 to 2014), he had made some vital contribution and he is happy to see the fruits of his labour.
“Abdulrahman (Mohammed), John Benson and Ali Qadri all developed under me. It’s really satisfying to see them now as key players of the first team,” Matic, who was in Doha last week, told Doha Stadium Plus.
“It’s also great to notice that Pedro (Miguel) has become a Qatar international after moving on to Al Sadd,” said Matic, who last managed OFK Beograd, the oldest of all clubs currently featuring in the Serbian premier division.
The 40-year-old, who is a UEFA Pro Licence holder, said he had focused a lot on the players’ discipline during his time at Ahli.
“I was a professional footballer who played in the UEFA Champions League and I know how much relevant discipline is. It doesn’t mean coming on time to train, but how one carries himself 24x7. Educating young players about it is vital,” said Matic, who played as a defender with clubs including OFK Beograd, Spartak Moscow, Slavia Sofia and CSKA Sofia.
Matic said his experience with Qatari players had always been good.
“I’ve only good things to remember. I made the message clear that I’m a hard worker and that I came to help them. I succeeded in that. Methodology is important in football. You need to first set a target and work towards that. Once you like your job, it becomes really easy. I’ve always been enthusiastic about football and it has helped me,” said Matic.
“I like young players a lot. I’ve managed the first teams of four clubs so far and I gave debuts to 15 youngsters. The most challenging thing is to get the time right in handing a player his debut.
“At Ahli, it was very important to be intimate with the players. I had to be their best friend to convince them even though I had to draw a line to stay as their coach and get the best out of them. I prepared them based on my philosophy with the right way of communication. I’m happy that my efforts are paying off for the club,” added Matic.