x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Abel Braga questions timing of Pro League break

The Al Jazira coach is hoping history does not repeat itself when his table-topping side return to action after the extended Pro League break.

Abel Braga is hoping history does not repeat itself when his table-topping Al Jazira side return to action after the extended Pro League break.

The league has been suspended as so many players are on national duty with the senior squad or the Olympic team.

"Oddly though, the league stops whenever Jazira is on top. This is the third time in three seasons we are experiencing this interruption," said Braga, whose side lost their lead in both those previous seasons to finish behind Al Ahli and Al Wahda respectively in the title race.

Jazira lead the league on 20 points after eight rounds and have seven of their players in the two national squads. If the league programme had continued Braga would have had to field a severely weakened team.

"We will lose almost the entire first-team players because they will be on national duty," he said.

"The long break obviously is a disadvantage for a team that's leading the league but at the same time we may have to play with a second-string team.

"On the positive side, I am looking at the Etisalat Cup games to provide the reserves and youth players with the opportunity to play.

"There are also some players returning from injuries, and it is also a good chance for them to get back to peak fitness."

The ninth round of the Pro League, originally scheduled for this week, has been postponed and the league schedule is set to recommence on December 12 with the 10th-round fixtures, while new dates are expected to be announced to include the round nine games.

The Olympic team are already in China for the Asian Games from November 7 and the senior team will re-group next week as they prepare for the Gulf Cup in Yemen from November 22 and the Asian Cup in Qatar in January 7.

 

apassela@thenational.ae