x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Al Jazira seek to up the ante

Abel Braga believes their stunning win over Al Wahda has given his table-topping Al Jazira the perfect platform for the second half of the Pro League.

Fernando Baiano is suspended for Al Jazira's match against Al Khaleej.
Fernando Baiano is suspended for Al Jazira's match against Al Khaleej.

ABU DHABI // Abel Braga believes their stunning win over Al Wahda, their city rivals, has given his table-topping Al Jazira the perfect platform for the second half of the Pro League. Braga's men crushed their city rivals, 4-0, in the derby match last week and head to the Khor Fakkan today for a clash with promoted Al Khaleej, who are second last in the 12-team league.

Jazira trounced Khaleej, 6-1, when they met them in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, but Braga has warned against complacency. "On paper it seems very easy game but it is not," said the Brazilian. "The week before Ajman held us to a 1-1 result at home and these are lessons to be learnt. It is a difficult game away with Khaleej and there are difficult games coming up." Jazira are two points ahead of Al Ain and Al Ahli, and Braga wants his outfit to strengthen their position.

"It is a good position to be in. I want my team to keep this position because any of the three teams now at the top may drop points and I just hope we don't drop as many as the others," said the former Paris St-Germain defender. With the exception of the suspended Fernando Baiano, the league's leading scorer, the Brazilian has a full squad to select from and will use Rafael Sobis as the attacking spearhead.

In the other games, Ain are at home to Al Dhafra, Wahda take on the rejuvenated Al Wasl and Al Shabab clash with Sharjah in the other games. The Wahda coach, Josef Hickersberger, will be seeking to restore his team's confidence back after the heavy defeat they suffered in their last game. Meanwhile, the Ain coach, Winfried Schaefer, will certainly not want to lose any momentum in side's title charge after closing the gap to two points at the halfway point in the season.

They did so with an injury-time goal from the Andre Senghor, the Senegalese striker, to secure a 2-1 win over Sharjah. The nine-times league champions are without the Moroccan, Soufiane Alloude, because of injury and have their playmaker, Jorge Valdivia, sidelined for three weeks, leaving Senghor and the Brazilian, Andre Diaz, to spearhead the attack. apassela@thenational.ae