x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Caio Junior out to solve Al Jazira's defensive problems

The Brazilian is looking to cut out the mistakes which saw Al Jazira knocked out of the Etisalat Cup when they meet Al Wasl in the Pro League tonight.

Al Jazira's Ali Kasheif, who conceded four goals against Al Shabab, is suspended for tonight's game against Al Wasl.
Al Jazira's Ali Kasheif, who conceded four goals against Al Shabab, is suspended for tonight's game against Al Wasl.

ABU DHABI // Caio Junior is looking to cut out the defensive mistakes which saw Al Jazira knocked out of the Etisalat Cup when they meet Al Wasl in the Pro League tonight.

The Brazilian coach saw his new team beaten 4-0 by Al Shabab in the cup semi-final, but says he has put that defeat behind him ahead of the game against Diego Maradona's men at the Mohammed bin Zayed stadium.

"It was a disappointing result but we are starting new," said Caio Junior, who replaced Franky Vercauteren at Jazira last week.

"We are returning to the league having found some solutions for the mistakes we did in the last game."

Jazira are third in the league, seven points behind league leaders Al Ain, with eight games left and the Brazilian says the champions cannot afford to drop more points if they are to retain the league title.

"We are not thinking of a defeat," Caio Junior said. "We are up against a strong attacking team but we are better prepared."

Jazira have three players missing because of suspensions. Ibrahim Diaky, the midfielder, was sent off in the last game while Juma Abdullah, the defender, and Ali Kasheif, the goalkeeper, are banned after accumulating three yellow cards.

They will be without Ali Mabkhout, Ali Al Ameri, Khamis Ismail and Khalid Eisa who are with the UAE Olympic team.

Maradona's side lost 1-0 to Al Ahli in the Etisalat Cup, but the Argentine said they were "completely ready" to face Jazira.

"Jazira are coming back from a heavy loss, which means they will be looking for a win," the Argentine said. "We have a very good team, a strong team and we will see a change in formation. We will rest some players who have played a lot of matches recently. You will see a few new faces. But we are ready for this game.

"They have a new coach, but that doesn't mean anything. They still have the same players. The players are the ones that dictate the game. They are the driving force behind the team. So having a new coach doesn't make that much of a difference.

"They are the same players and they have been playing together for a long time. So the change doesn't really work in our favour."

Mariono Donda, Wasl's Argentine midfielder, is expected to return after injury and illness.

"He will definitely be part of the squad," Maradona said. "He will start on the bench and hopefully take some part in the match."

Wasl are without goalkeeper Majed Naser, who was hit with a 17-match suspension for shoving Ahli coach Quique Sanchez Flores after their Eitsalat Cup exit.

Ajman v Al Wahda

Josef Hickersberger, the Al Wahda coach, expects his struggle to field a full-strength side to continue until the end of the season.

“We have never been able to field our best team at any stage of this season and it is unlikely this situation will improve for us,” the Austrian said before their game against Ajman tonight. Mohammed Al Shehhi, the Wahda forward, will undergo knee surgery and has been ruled out for the rest of the season while Mahmoud Khamis, Eisa Ahmed and Magrao have not recovered from injuries.

Emirates v Baniyas

Lotfi Benzarti has turned around the fortunes of Emirates, who have won eight points from the five games since he took charge of the Ras Al Khaimah club in January.

The Tunisian is tonight seeking a victory against his former club Baniyas, whom he led to promotion and a creditable fourth place in the Pro League in 2010 before he was dismissed. Emirates have progressed in the second half of the season and would be looking to move further away from the drop zone.

They are in ninth place, five points behind the eighth-placed Baniyas.

apassela@thenational.ae