x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Ambitious Schaefer targets a clean sweep

The Al Ain manager Winifred Schaefer has called on his squad of players to finally live up to their potential.

AL AIN // The Al Ain manager Winifred Schaefer has called on his squad of players to finally live up to their potential. Al Ain, who did the domestic cup double last season, face the champions Al Ahli in tonight's Super Cup, and Schaefer wants to use the game as a springboard for greater success this season. "Now it is time to start delivering," he said. "Our ambitions, like every other team, include winning every competition, local and continental, and I believe we are at the top of our readiness."

Schaefer won the league title when in charge of Ahli in 2005-06 and is determined to repeat that with Al Ain, as well as trying to make the side competitive in next year's Asian Champions League. "I want to win all again for my team," he said. "We have more competitions to play and this one-off match can set the precedent of a better season for us. We want to get our season off to a really super start.

"We have prepared well with a European camp in Spain and Switzerland, followed by a friendly triangular competition with some of the leading clubs in the Gulf." Schaefer has two new foreign forwards - the Brazilian Marcio Emerson and the Argentine Jose Sand - to partner Jorge Valdivia, the Chilian playmaker. And he believes his young local players have matured after last season. "The young Emirati players whom I brought in last season are more matured and the two new foreign signings, Emerson and Sand, have impressed me," he said.

"Sand scored four goals in the three friendly matches and Emerson will be playing his first match, but I am sure he can make a big impression. "Of course Valdivia has played a key role in our success and he remains our key player for this season. "I am not happy with his national team, though. They play him as a striker when he's not. So when he returns after national duty he takes some time to adjust to the club role. In my opinion Valdivia is a provider.

"This is where he belongs and this is where he is best, and with Emerson and Sand, I think he will be more effective in this role." The teams twice drew 2-2 last season, with Al Ain finishing 12 points behind Ahli in the table. apassela@thenational.ae