x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Ain coach hails his trio of architects

The Al Ain manager Winfred Schaefer expects even more from his South American trio after his team's 5-1 thrashing of defending champions Al Ahli on Friday.

The Al Ain manager Winfred Schaefer expects even more from his South American trio after his team's 5-1 thrashing of defending champions Al Ahli on Friday. Jose Sand, who scored a hat-trick, Marcio Emerson and Jorge Valdivia were in top form as Ain outclassed Ahli on their own pitch. "This is only their third competitive game and this partnership is going to pose a lot of problems to all the opposition," Schaefer said.

"Sand is very strong inside the box and Emerson behind him moves from the two sides, and Valdivia creates all those moves as these three players manoeuvre through the opponents defence. This combination was in their element on the night. "This was a high-class performance from them and an excellent team effort. As a coach, I try not to speak of one player, but I must admit Sand, Emerson and Valdivia were the architects of this big win. They were outstanding in this game."

The Argentine Sand scored three times after the Brazilian Emerson cancelled out Ahli's early lead through Mohammed Surour. The late substitute Ahmed Khamis completed the scoring with an injury time goal. Ain's win was their second against Ahli in 10 days after the Super Cup win. Ioan Andone, the Ahli manager, admitted they were beaten by a better team: "Al Ain were just too good on the night. And in Sand, Emerson and Valdivia, they have found a very strong combination."

Meanwhile the Ajman manager Ze Mario will have to find a way to stop last season's top-scorer Fernando Baiano if his team need to win their first point in tonight's game (5.15pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 1) against Al Wahda. The Brazilian comes into the game having scored twice against Al Ahli. Elsewhere, Al Shabab will also be looking for their first points when they host Al Wasl (KO 8pm). apassela@thenational.ae