x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Abel Braga unhappy with fixture list

Al Jazira coach knows his players face a tough run-in and has concerns his team will not have sufficiently recovered from winning the President's Cup on Monday.

ABU DHABI // Abel Braga is concerned that his Al Jazira team will not have sufficiently recovered from winning the President's Cup on Monday to give their best against second-placed Baniyas tomorrow, and is unhappy the Pro League did not delay the game at least one day.

"The fixtures are too close together," he said last night. "We will be playing five times in 22 days. That is too much. We asked the league for one more day, and they said no.

"All my players looked tired in training today. They have been celebrating, and they haven't had much time. They are not at the same level they have been before."

He expects a stern test away to Baniyas, who are now led by the Emirati Mahdi Ali, who is also coach of the UAE Olympic team.

"This is a good team with good players, and Mahdi Ali knows everyone very well," Braga said.

"They may be better off with him than the last coach," he added, referring to Lufti al Benzarti. "But he was not bad either to have taken the team to second place."

Jazira will not begin celebrating their first league title if they defeat Baniyas and take a 13-point lead with six rounds to play.

"We will stay on the same course and play just the same until we have clinched the title," Braga said.

The Brazilian denied that he has entered into negotiations with Jazira management on a new contract after the club's President's Cup success. His three-season deal expires in June.

"I remain focused on the Pro League and the [Asian] Champions League," he said. "After I have finished with these that's when I perhaps will speak with management about a new contract. There is nothing so far."

poberjuerge@thenational.ae