x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Al Jazira must keep focus on Pro League chase of Al Ain, warns Paulo Bonamigo

The Jazira coach, whose side takes on Al Dhafra next, knows he must rely on Al Ain dropping points if they are to be caught at the top of the table.

Al Jazra coach Paulo Bonamigo refuses to give up on the Pro League title yet.
Al Jazra coach Paulo Bonamigo refuses to give up on the Pro League title yet.

Paulo Bonamigo has still not given up Al Jazira's Pro League title ambitions even as they are nine points behind the holders Al Ain with nine games left.

The Jazira coach insisted his task was to win their remaining games with the hope Al Ain lose some ground before an away meeting against the Garden City club on March 3.

Jazira also travel to Iran for their opening Asian Champions League meeting with Tractor Sazi in Tabriz on Tuesday but Bonamigo was not looking beyond their game against Al Dhafra on Thursday at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

"We don't want to make this mistake by instilling the idea on the players that this game is part of our preparation for the ACL game," the Brazilian said.

"The three points from the Dhafra game is very important for us to keep our league ambitions alive and we have made all the players to realise the importance and to focus only on this game.

"So we are not looking beyond the game against Dhafra. The league and the ACL are different competitions with different objectives. We will talk about the ACL after this game."

In the first half of the season, Jazira went down to Dhafra 2-1 away after Amara Diane's winner eight minutes from time.

"We can't forget that result," Bonamigo said. "We respect Dhafra a lot but we want to win this match as we can't afford to allow Al Ain to widen the gap.

"We must be efficient against Dhafra because they will play very compact and with a strong defensive system. We need to play with patience to break their defence.

"We obviously can't spoil too many scoring opportunities that may come our way. We will be very happy to win by a single goal because the three points will be what matter at the end."

Jazira will have three absentees - Khamis Ismail, Ali Salem Al Ameri, and Khalid Sabeel - all sitting out for three yellow cards.

Submit Khater, the experienced midfielder who had not got a regular start in recent games scored twice in their 4-2 win over Ajman last week. He is certain to start in place of Ismail.

"We expected Subait to be at this level from the beginning of the season," Bonamigo said.

"He played at this level two years ago. We know he can play at this high level and even playing for a short game he can play a pivotal role. We want him to continue at this same level."

Dhafra don't have any title ambitions but they want to improve their position to avoid relegation.

"For us every game is a very tough, regardless who the opponents are," said Abdulsalam Jumaa, the Dhafra captain.

"We had to come through a qualification round when the teams in the league were increased to 14 and now our objective is to keep our place in the top flight.

"We defeated Jazira early in the season and it is still possible to win against them, which is our objective again. We also must be realistic. We are playing against a quality team, a team challenging Al Ain for the title."

 

apassela@thenational.ae

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