x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Al Jazira coach content with decision to sever Euro ties

Franky Vercauteren is happy for his former team, Genk, and whatever success they find in the Champions League, but his focus is squarely on Al Jazira as they face a derby match against Al Wahda.

Franky Vercauteren is looking for a better result this time around for his Al Jazira side when they face rival Al Wasl.
Franky Vercauteren is looking for a better result this time around for his Al Jazira side when they face rival Al Wasl.

Abu Dhabi // Franky Vercauteren, the new Al Jazira coach, could easily have been preparing a team to play Bayer Leverkusen in the European Champions League next week and against Chelsea next month.

But the Belgium stunned the football scene in his own country in August when he walked out on Racing Genk to take charge of the Pro League champions and President's Cup holders.

And he has no regrets.

The Etisalat Cup may not have the same prestige as club football's premier tournament, but Vercauteren is adamant there were no second thoughts on his part ahead of Jazira's game at the home of nearby neighbours Al Wahda tonight.

Vercauteren led Genk to the Belgian title last season but left the club for the UAE in the middle of a Champions League qualifier against Maccabi Haifa.

Genk won that tie and last week played out a superb 0-0 draw with Primera Liga leaders Valencia. And while their former coach was pleased for his old team, he is concentrated solely on his new one.

"I am quite happy that Genk are in the Champions League, but that is in the past. It is finished for me," Vercauteren said. "I loved that club and enjoyed what I did there, but for me it is over. I am not disappointed about me being here and them being in the Champions League. Not at all.

"This [Jazira] is my job. This is my position. It is very clear for me that they can have what they have. Genk are doing well and I am happy for them. I don't think too much back to Genk, but good luck to them."

Wahda beat Jazira on penalties in the Super Cup earlier this month, so this is a chance for some quick revenge over their city rivals.

Last week's 4-3 Etisalat Cup win over Diego Maradona's Al Wasl showed the Pro League champions still know how to score goals; the problem has been on defence.

"We were all disappointed that we lost the Super Cup, as we had opportunities to win," Vercauteren said. "And it is always difficult to lose twice to the same opponent in two weeks. We are still close to the last defeat and that makes this game different compared to if it took place a few months from now. We have kept in mind what happened two weeks ago.

"We are improving step by step. The team is getting better. We have worked hard on all aspects of football. I was happy to beat Al Wasl in the last cup game, and I am not a trainer who never changes a winning team. So the names might be different for this match, even if the set up stays the same."

Vercauteren needs a win this evening, however, as Al Jazira's main priority this season is retaining their title. But a derby victory is always something any coach would be grateful for.

"Al Wahda is a good team. They have what I call working points and we will try to use them, but I won't say what I think is their weak side, as that could help them," he said.

In the earlier game, Dubai host Al Ain at 5.30pm.





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