x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Ain ready for a 'final push' to the title, says Cosmin Olaroiu

Manager confident Al Ain will build on four-point advantage in table as Pro League leaders will play third-placed Al Nasr tonight.

Cosmin Olaroiu has plenty of faith in his Al Ain players. Mike Young / The National
Cosmin Olaroiu has plenty of faith in his Al Ain players. Mike Young / The National

League leaders Al Ain return to the fray tonight rested and ready to push on with their title challenge.

Al Ain have a four-point advantage over Al Jazira at the top of the table and they face Al Nasr, who are third in the table, tonight as the Pro League resumes after a month-long break.

And Cosmin Olaroiu, the coach, has the rare luxury of being able to pick from a full-strength squad.

"All our players had good benefits from the break," he said. "For us, every game is now important. I have a lot of faith on my players and they understand of the work ahead. We are in a good position and must take advantage of it."

The coach has been able to welcome back his national team players while others have been rested to allow them to shake off niggling injuries. "We have all the players available," Olaroiu said. "We had a few injuries and some players who were tired from international duties."

The club devised a special training programme during the break to keep the players focused.

"I would like to think they are all in good shape for the final push in the league," Olaroiu said.

"We played some friendly matches, which helped us a lot to keep the players focused. We have missed some players during this period but we had a good preparation."

While Al Ain hold a strong advantage in the title race, the coach is not anticipating any easy matches. "We don't expect others to do us favours, so winning the league is in our own hands," the Romanian said.

"There may be an odd one or two results that may favour or not favour us, but we can't expect such things to happen. We must win every game to maintain the lead at the top."

Olaroiu said he has told his players to concentrate on one match at a time. "Every game is important for us as I have repeatedly said before," he said. "We want to get the Ahli match aside before thinking of the next game.

"Ahli are a strong team and we need to be careful. They have reached the final of the Etisalat Cup and they don't have any pressure on the league.

"We need to win our match against them so it will help us in our main target to win the league. They have also shown remarkable improvement under Quique [Sanchez Flores]. They are now more organised and have better style on the pitch."

Ahli will be without the Brazilians Grafite and Luis Jimenez, as well as Ismail Al Hammadi, the UAE international winger. All three are serving one-match bans for three yellow cards. "I don't think of their absence will make any difference to us," Olaroiu said.

"We defeated them when they were all present. They are all good players but I don't think about what the opposition plan. I will concentrate on my team and our game plan."

apassela@thenational.ae