x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Al Dhafra aim to learn from Al Ain defeat for Etisalat Cup match

The Western Region side hope to bounce back from their 7-0 loss when they face an in-form Al Wasl in the Etisalat Cup.

Al Dhafra lost to Al Ain 7-0. Courtesy of Al Ittihad
Al Dhafra lost to Al Ain 7-0. Courtesy of Al Ittihad

DUBAI // Al Dhafra say they have "turned the page" on their crushing defeat to Al Ain on Friday and promised a better showing at Al Wasl tonight in the Etisalat Cup.

The 7-0 loss to Al Ain in the third week of the Pro League is Dhafra's heaviest defeat in the top division since 2000, but Khalifa Tunaiji, the vice-president of the Western Region club, believes his team could take inspiration from the defending league champions, who lost 6-3 to Al Ahli in their opening league game.

"We will bounce back just like Al Ain," said Tunaiji, whose team qualified for the Pro League through the play-offs.

"They lost to Ahli, but did not cry over spilt milk and instead focused on finding their balance and came back much stronger, achieving great results in the second and third rounds.

"As a team, we will try to do the same. Whether you lose by one goal or seven, you have to learn your lessons from every defeat and find solutions. I believe we have done that and I am confident we will come back stronger.

"There is a long season ahead and if you can look at the defeat positively, it is good it came at the start of the competition and not towards the end. It gives us time to find solutions and this game against Wasl will be a good opportunity for us to try different things and use some new players."

Wasl could be as stiff a challenge for Dhafra as Al Ain after their impressive start to the season. Bruno Metsu's team are undefeated in four games in all competitions, but they will be missing their Egyptian midfielder Shikabala and the Australian defender Lucas Neill tonight as the two have been called up for national duty.

Rashed Essa is also a doubtful starter after complaining of knee pain. Emiliano Alfaro, however, will be present and Metsu's must be pleased his prolific striker has not been called up by Uruguay.

Alfaro has scored eight of Wasl's 12 goals in their four games and the home fans will be hoping he can net a few more tonight as they try to bounce back after dropping two points against Al Ahli on Thursday night, when Grafite struck in the second minute of injury time to claim a 2-2 draw.

"What happened against Ahli was due to a lack of focus," said Hamid Yousuf, the director Wasl's first team. "So we need to show greater focus in the upcoming games."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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