Ricardo Oliveira, who became the Pro League's most expensive signing when he joined Al Jazira for 15million (Dh82m), eight months ago, has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury. The former AC Milan striker was injured during the derby match against Al Wahda three weeks ago and is to undergo surgery his native Brazil. The injury is a major blow for Jazira as they strive to mount a title challenge and fight for a place in the knock-out stages of the Asian Champions League.
Jazira, who are second in the Pro League, travel to Iran for their ACL Group A meeting with Esteghlal tonight at the Azadi Stadium. The coach Abel Braga refused to reveal how serious the striker's injury was, talking only of tonight's game. He said: "Of course injuries are not uncommon, but when your best player is not available, it is a bit of a concern. "We are heading for a tough game and I would like to think a draw will be a very satisfying result for us under the circumstances.
"Obviously our main goal would be to return with three points but a point will be equally as satisfying. "The first half of this game will be very crucial. If we can hold them without conceding a goal, the pressure will ease." Rafael Sobis, the Brazilian who has recently returned from a knee ligament injury, will partner Mohammed Suroor in attack while Ibrahim Diaky will marshal the midfield with Abdulsalam Jumaa, Subait Khater and Abdulla Mousa.
Esteghla won their first match 2-1 away to Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia in a group that also includes Al Gharafa, who beat Jazira 1-0 on the opening night of the ACL. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org