x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Braga won't let history be repeated

The Al Jazira coach says that he will prevent his team from throwing away the league title this season.

DUBAI // Going into the final eight games of the Pro League, Al Jazira are top of the pile with 35 points and just one defeat in 14 games. They have been in this position before, but have yet to win a league title. Last season they were pipped by Al Shabab in a dramatic last match at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. Abel Braga is fully aware of Jazira's history of poor finishes, but the coach is confident there will be no repeat. "That is the past," said the Brazilian, who was managing Internacional back home last season and guided them to three trophies. "I was not here, but I have heard about it. I am here now and we are working hard to make sure that doesn't happen this time. I have told the players about this aspect of our history and the players are determined not to see a repeat."

The players' determination was in evidence at Al Wasl on Saturday night as they beat the battling hosts 3-0 for their 11th win in the league. Fernando Baiano struck twice in the second-half to take his season's tally to 17 after Subait Khater's free-kick had opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. Jazira's only defeat this season was at Ahli in October, and they will have a chance to avenge that on Friday in Abu Dhabi for what could be a decisive battle in the title race. "It will be a very big match," said Braga. "If we win that one, we will open up a big lead at the top."

Meanwhile, the Al Ain goal-keeper Motaz Abdulla blamed the hectic schedule for the team's under performance with the bottom placed Al Khaleej, whom they struggled to beat 2-1. "February has been the most difficult month where we had to play eight matches," said the former UAE international. "The players had hardly a time to recover. They had to fight fatigue and injuries. Yet, we have done admirably well. We have won 10 league points from a possible 12, and the two President's Cup games to reach the final."