x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Arabian Gulf League: Ali Kasheif says Al Jazira on same page as Milla

Emirati goalkeeper confident teammates can challenge both domestically and in Asian Champions League next season, writes John McAuley.

Al Jazira Captain Ali Khesaif (Photo courtesy Al Jazira FC)
Al Jazira Captain Ali Khesaif (Photo courtesy Al Jazira FC)

Ali Kasheif is confident his Al Jazira side can challenge both domestically and in the Asian Champions League next season.

An aggressive recruitment drive has raised expectations ahead of the 2013/14 campaign, with Nelson Valdez, the experienced Paraguayan striker, and Abdelaziz Barrada, the talented Moroccan playmaker, adding plenty of promise to a foreign roster that already included Ricardo Oliveira and Shin Hyung-min. Jazira also recruited Musallem Fayez, the Emirati defender, from Al Ain.

That Luis Milla, the Spanish coach appointed last February, has had a full pre-season with the squad only accentuates belief that Jazira can emulate their double-winning side of 2011. Last season, Jazira finished third in the league, 15 points behind champions Al Ain. "My teammates and I have adjusted perfectly to the coach's methods and vision, and it's very clear every player, including the new signings, are fully aware of the great value of the Al Jazira shirt," said Kasheif, the UAE's No 1 goalkeeper, from his team's training base in Germany.

"We're still motivated and looking for improvement in every possible aspect and, with the coaching staff's help, we'll do our best to reach the best mental and physical levels by the start of the season."

Given the investment, Kasheif believes Jazira will be more consistent than they were through 2012/13, when they dropped points against the bottom side Dibba Al Fujairah, and twice failed to defeat Dubai.

They envisage an improvement in Asia, too, following one victory from six group matches last term. "This negative point is being fixed, and we'll fight for every point," Kasheif said.

Meanwhile, Fernandinho, the Jazira forward who recently joined Brazil's Atletico Mineiro on a year-long loan, endured an awful debut on Monday when he received a red card for elbowing an opponent in the league game against Internacional.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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