x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Al Ain ready for a test of their title credentials

Cosmin Olaroiu's side lead the Pro League table but they will be given a tough examination away at Al Nasr tonight.

Cosmin Olaroiu will patrol the touchline at Al Nasr tonight.
Cosmin Olaroiu will patrol the touchline at Al Nasr tonight.

Cosmin Olaroiu, the Al Ain coach, expects rivals to raise their game against his table-topping team in the second half of the season.

Al Ain head the Pro League standings at the midway stage in the campaign, and the Romanian know his job is only half done as he plots to maintain his side's position in the league, starting on Monday night against Al Nasr.

The Garden City team won their home encounter 2-0 at the beginning of the season and Olaroiu is preparing for a hard game this evening at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, but said the team's tactics will remain the same.

"Every game is important for us and we will play to win, which has been our strategy from the beginning of the season," he said. "Of course we expect all teams to come hard at us because we are the top team at the moment. And we are ready for that.

"We start against Nasr and they are a very good team. They are not the same team we met in the met at the beginning of the season. They have new players and the team has shown remarkable improvement."

Olaroiu will be without several leading players tonight including has a selection dilemma with several injuries in his squad. Asamoah Gyan, the star striker who is on national duty for with the Ghana side at the African Cup of Nations and will miss the next two league games as he will not be back until after February 10.

“We knew of Gyan’s non-availability beforehand but the injuries to some of the key players are the problem areas,” Olaroiu said. “We have lost several players because of it. But the good thing is that those who have come in their places have done admirably well."

According to the coach, Waleed Salem, the goalkeeper, Yasser Al Qahtani, the Saudi Arabian forward, and Omar Abdulrahman, the influential midfielder, are back in training but have still to pass fitness tests.

“All those who have joined the training will have to pass a fitness test,” Olaroiu said. “I am not too sure if they will be available. And I am not sure if Mirel Radoi will be available for this game.”

Also on Monday night, Al Wahda will field a depleted line-up against Al Shabab at the Al Nahyan stadium.

Ismail Matar, their playmaker, serves a one-match ban for three yellow cards, while Hamdan Al Kamali, the central back, has made himself unavailable. Magrao, the Brazilian midfielder, is still recovering from a leg injury and three players – Khaled Jalal, Salem Saleh and Adel Al Hosani – are on national duty with the Olympic team.



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