DUBAI // Ivan Hasek, the Al Ahli coach, hopes the chance for his players to test themselves against the best in the world will ensure they are in the best possible shape when they return for pre-season training. The Dubai side were crowned Pro League champions on Sunday, ensuring their participation in the Fifa Club World Cup to be held in Abu Dhabi in December.
The biggest name to be heading to the Emirates will be decided tonight when Manchester United and Barcelona clash in Rome for the right to call themselves champions of Europe. The winner will look to go one better later this year, when they head to Abu Dhabi to become champions of the world. Ahli are likely enter the tournament in the first game, where they will play the Oceania Champions League champions Auckland City.
Should they win that tie they could go through to face the winners of the continental competitions. Hasek hopes the possibility of playing against such great players is motivation enough for his players to keep in good shape during the summer months. "Playing against the like of Manchester United or Barcelona will be a great motivation for the players to work hard during the off-season," he said. "It doesn't matter who wins the Champions League, they both are great sides and it is a fantastic opportunity for our players to play against them.
"They will take a short break and then start preparing. We want to perform well against the champion clubs from around the globe. "We need to start preparing for the Club World Cup from this moment and make sure we are a much stronger team than this season. It is a great moment for our club and our supporters. "We will be representing the UAE, which is fantastic for all the people who have worked hard to achieve it."
Hasek was happy with the progress players have shown this season, but said there is a lot of hard work to be done before Ahli can be counted among the top clubs in Asia. "We must play better if we want to win more trophies," he said. "At times during this season, we have lost our concentration on the field after taking a lead. We have to make sure we change that." firstname.lastname@example.org "I am happy with the progress some players have shown.
"Yousuf Jaber has improved a lot since last season, so have Obaid Khalifa, Mohammed Fawzi, Mohammed Khalid, Saad Suroor and the two keepers. Salah Abbas has also shown a lot of progress. "But we still have a lot of work ahead before the start of the new season. We need to keep progressing and get better as professional. That is very important for the future. "At times during this season, we have lost our concentration on the field after taking a lead. We have to make sure we change that.
"Anything is possible in football. If we don't concentrate, we are zero. We were zero in the game against Saba Battery when we lost 3-5 after taking a 3-0 lead. "We have to make sure the switch from amateur to professional league is not just in name. The players need to change their mindset as well. "So if we can work on that, we have the potential to be a very big. We have so many good youngsters and the future is really bright for the club."