x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Braga realistic as Jazira put in a tough pool

The Al Jazira coach Abel Braga has told his team they must learn from their mistakes in this year's Asian Champions League (ACL).

Abel Braga will be looking to record Jazira's first Champions League win in seven matches.
Abel Braga will be looking to record Jazira's first Champions League win in seven matches.

The Al Jazira coach Abel Braga has told his team they must learn from their mistakes in this year's Asian Champions League (ACL) if they are to have any success in the 2010 tournament. The Pro League leaders, just like the other three UAE teams in this year's event, failed to make it out of the group stage after drawing five of their six group games, and losing the other.

Jazira will face Iranian champions Esteghlal, Qatari champions Al Gharafa and Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli in Group A. "Everyone said we were drawn against a couple of weaker teams in 2009, yet we failed to go beyond the group stage," said Braga.

"If we can't learn from those results, we are living in another world. Everyone thinks this group is weak and that group is tough, but there is no such thing as easy groups and tough groups. "We must be realistic. Every game in this competition will be tough and we must be prepared to beat any team to be champions." In the last tournament, Jazira drew both their games with Esteghlal and eventual runners up Al Ittihad from Saudi Arabia, but suffered a costly home defeat to Qatari side Umm Salal Next year, it is Jazira's Abu Dhabi rivals Al Wahda who could face Ittihad in what will be a difficult group. But before they worry about that, Wahda must win two play-off games if they are to reach the group stage after finishing fourth the Pro League. This looks an achievable task with Syrian side Al Karamah and India's Churchill Brothers both lacking real quality. If they do make it, Wahda will also be paired with Uzbek giants Bunyodkor, a team that features former World Player of the Year Rivaldo and who are coached by World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari. Iran's Zob Ahan are the other team in that group.

Meanwhile, Pro League winners Al Ahli, who kick off the Club World Cup tomorrow against Auckland City, have been handed a tough challenge, according to their coach. The champions were paired with Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal, winners of the former Asian Club Championship in 1991 and 2000, Mes Kerman of Iran and Qatar's Al Sadd. "I don't think there are any weak teams in our group or in any other groups," said Mahdi Ali. "There are no weak teams at this level. The only advantage any team would expect is less travel time for the away games. But with teams from west and east Asia drawn separately, the travel times are minimum."

apassela@thenational.ae