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Luis Milla says it was difficult taking over Al Jazira late in the season, but that he and the team will be better prepared now. Lee Hoagland / The National
Luis Milla says it was difficult taking over Al Jazira late in the season, but that he and the team will be better prepared now. Lee Hoagland / The National

Al Jazira coach Luis Milla coming to grips with Arabian Gulf League

Spanish coach is back, looking fresh and recharged as Abu Dhabi football club began their pre-season training this week, writes Amith Passela.

ABU DHABI // Luis Milla said his rejuvenated Al Jazira team has what it takes to be on the title path this season.

The former Spain Under 21 coach endured a tough run of results when he first took charge of the Abu Dhabi club last February from Paulo Bonamigo, the Brazilian now in charge of Sharjah.

He tasted defeat in the Asian Champions League to Iran's Tractor Sazi and then league champions Al Ain within his first two weeks, and he said: "It was a very challenging and difficult period from the time I took charge.

"I had very little time to prepare with matches after matches every week yet we did pretty well to finish strongly at the end of last season to finish third in the league."

The Spaniard is back looking fresh and recharged as Jazira began their pre-season training this week.

"Now, I have a better idea of the players and the competitions here, and more importantly the time to prepare them to play to the style and level from the time I took charge," Milla said.

"For sure, we will be better prepared this season and want to win as many titles as possible.

"The first period of our training was to welcome the players back after the holidays and to make them understand the expectations from each and every player.

"We want to create competition between all the players and to ensure they are all been prepared to fit in to the line-up whenever we need them during the long season.

"They will have to reach their best level of fitness and mental readiness before the season begins. And above all, we want to establish harmony and create a family spirit on and off the pitch. "

Jazira off-loaded their captain, Ibrahim Diaky, to Al Ain and replaced the Brazilian forward Fernandinho and the Argentine midfielder Matias Delgado.

Milla has had a big influence on the moves of Nelson Valdez and Abdulaziz Barrada from the Spanish clubs Valencia and Getafe, respectively.

Valdez acknowledged Milla's role for his arrival at Jazira, saying: "The coach spoke of ambitions to win titles and how we could get close to the Spanish school and philosophy at Jazira."

Jazira will begin the first phase of their preparation with a friendly tournament involving Al Nahda of Oman, Al Kuwait of Kuwait, and Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium from Friday.

They will have a break for Eid and then leave for their external camps in Germany and Switzerland that would also include friendly matches.

apassela@thenational.ae

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