x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Dhafra urged to focus on winning ways

The Abu Dhabi side will be promoted if they draw with Al Shaab, but the coach wants victory.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 9 2012, Emirates vs Al Dhafra- Al Dhafra's Head Coach works the touch line during Al Dhafra v Emirates Match . Mike Young / The National??
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 9 2012, Emirates vs Al Dhafra- Al Dhafra's Head Coach works the touch line during Al Dhafra v Emirates Match . Mike Young / The National??

ABU DHABI // Dzemal Hadziabdic has told his team not to worry about permutations tonight and to simply play for the win when they take on Al Shaab in the final match of their Pro League promotion play-offs.

Al Dhafra - who have won both their games so far - only need a draw to guarantee promotion when they meet Shaab at the Khalifa bin Zayed stadium in Al Ain.

"I have told my players to go out there with the same mentality as in the two previous matches. They don't have to think too much on the promotion but just go out there and win this game," the coach said.

"I want my players to go out there and win the three points. It is as simple as that.

"This has been our approach ever since we started to prepare for the play-off.

The Bosnian is aware Dhafra are still not guaranteed of a place in the top flight.

The two qualifiers could end up being decided on goal difference if Shaab and Sharjah - who play Emirates - both win tonight.

Dhafra head the points table on six with Shaab and Sharjah on three each. Emirates have lost both their games, but mathematically all four teams still have a chance win promotion.

For Shaab, they must match Sharjah's result and score line to go up. The teams are level on points and goal difference, but Shaab have scored more.

"That's what we will try to achieve on the pitch," Sergio Alexandre, the Shaab coach, said.

"This game is all to play for, for us. We were very unfortunate to lose to Sharjah to an injury time goal but otherwise we had done pretty well in this competition so far."

Shaab are bidding to return to the Pro League for the first time since 2009.

Dhafra have been up and down the ladder a few times but they have made their intentions very clear.

They recruited 14 local players, including six on loan from Al Ain, and appointed Hadziabdic, who has been in the region for nearly two decades, taking charge of Al Ittihad, now Al Gharafa, in Qatar in 1992.

The former Yugoslavia international will have a full squad to select from and is likely to field an unchanged line-up to that which won 1-0 against Sharjah and had a 5-1 victory over Emirates.

"There are a few players with minor injuries but all are available," Hadziabdic said.

"This is an important game for us as it is for Shaab. I really wouldn't know how well we are placed after two games. We have two wins, have scored six goals and conceded one.

"Yet it can go in to a three-way tie if we lose and then the goal difference. So it is best to win this game and be guaranteed of promotion."

apassela@thenational.ae

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