x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Braga aims to be third time lucky

A determined Abel Braga said his Al Jazira side will not settle for anything less than the Pro League title.

ABU DHABI // A determined Abel Braga said his Al Jazira side will not settle for anything less than the Pro League title and assured supporters, who have had to endure two seasons of finishing second best, that the club will earn the right to play in next year's Fifa Club World Cup on their home turf. The Abu Dhabi club has never won any major domestic silverware, but took the league title race down on to the final night of the competition in the past two season.

Braga is confident it will be third time lucky. "We missed winning the Pro League by a whisker," said Braga. "We got off to a great start, but couldn't sustain that form until the end. This time we have a bigger squad and I am pretty confident we can end the jinx of being second for a third time." Braga will not have the services of last season's top scorer Fernando Baiano. The Brazilian striker crossed over to city rivals Al Wahda after turning down the two-year US$5 million (Dh18.3m) offer from Jazira, demanding a three-year deal for US$9m.

"We must understand the players have their own plans and their future to look after," added Braga. "He has made a decision and we can't stop that. Baiano was a good player and did a great job for us, but we now have Ricardo Oliveira in his place and nobody can dispute his abilities." Braga's team went down to Al Orouba of Oman 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 deadlock, but still emerged winners of the IPIC Cup friendly quadrangular tournament at the Zayed Sports City in the early hours of yesterday.

"Webenefited from these warm up games against some of the leading clubs in the Gulf. We tried out the new players and achieved our objectives," he said. Record signing Oliveira was not risked in the tournament after suffering a slight ankle niggle during training. apassela@thenational.ae