Alex Brosque says Al Ain have the resources to compete both domestically and on the continent, reports John McAuley.
Alex Brosque says Al Ain have what it takes to compete in Pro League and on continent
Much has been made about the Garden City club's crowded fixture list, as Al Ain compete not only in the Pro League - they enjoy an eight-point lead at the top of the table - but in the Asian Champions League and President's Cup, too.
Cosmin Olaroiu, the coach, has constantly criticised the congestion, and on a number of occasions has implored the Pro League to ensure a similar situation does not occur next season.
Al Ain are currently in the midst of a programme that demands four matches in 11 days, so Olaroiu chose to leave Omar Abdulrahman and Brosque on the bench for Saturday's match at Ahli.
The visitors, also without the league's leading scorer in Asamoah Gyan, more than held their own against Ahli, with the score at 0-0 before the referee called a premature end to the game.
And, ahead of Tuesday's trip to Qatar for the Asian Champions League encounter with Al Rayyan - Al Ain are second in Group D - Brosque said Olaroiu's decision to freshen up the side was justified, especially as it came only three days after their 2-1 home victory against Rayyan.
"The scheduling of the games, to put this one in between the two Champions League matches, made it difficult for us," Brosque said. "It's been a hard job for the coach to juggle players around as everybody couldn't play the full 90 for the three games.
"But that's the good thing about our squad - we've a lot of depth and a lot of good players to come in and do the same job as the player they replace. You saw that [against Ahli] and we're very happy with the end result.
"Now we can go to Qatar and, if we can get a win there, that pretty much sets us up to need just another couple of points to get through to the next round."
Brosque praised the contribution at Ahli of Yousef Ahmad, the 18-year-old striker who performed admirably up front in the absence of the Australian and Gyan. Gyan is expected to return to the squad for the Rayyan tie after fully recovering from a thigh injury sustained while on international duty with Ghana.
"Having Asmaoah back will give a lift us, especially when he gets back on the park," Brosque said. "But as a team we work very hard for one another and we train very hard. We've done well enough throughout the season to allow us to compete against Ahli and have one eye on the Champions League as well."
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