x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Caio Junior senses a big opportunity for Al Jazira

Coach optimistic of side's chances against Baniyas in tonight's President's Cup final.

Caio Junior can win his first trophy as Al Jazira coach tonight.
Caio Junior can win his first trophy as Al Jazira coach tonight.

ABU DHABI // Caio Junior will have a squad of rested and battle ready players for tonight's Presidents Cup final against Baniyas.

Al Jazira's Brazilian coach will have his complete complement of players at his disposal including Lucas Neill, the Australian defender who is fit again after a leg injury, and Abdulla Mousa, the midfielder who has recovered from a bout of flu.

"This is a big opportunity to finish the season with a trophy," Caio Junior said at the pre-match news conference yesterday.

"We have mainly worked on the fitness, especially on players who are recovering from little injuries and fatigue.

"Some of our key players were rested to give them more time to recover and we have also worked on the mental aspects to motivate the players."

Jazira are still chasing trophies on three fronts having progressed through the group stages of the Asian Champions League (ACL) with a 1-1 draw against Esteghlal of Iran last week.

They play tonight's final at the Zayed Sports City stadium and then travel to Al Ain for a top of the table clash in the Pro League on Friday.

Victory tonight could go a long way to determining the future of the coach, who took over the Abu Dhabi club in early march on a six-month contract.

He said: "The President's Cup is not the only target for me but the ACL as well, now that we have moved beyond the group stage. I got close to winning the ACL with Al Gharafa [of Qatar] and would like to have another go at it with Jazira.

"There are more difficult tasks ahead of us. The fact we have now qualified for the second round of the ACL makes it more comfortable for us in the cup final."

The Champions League finals will be played in November.

"I am prepared to stay at Jazira if they want me to," Caio Junior said. "I would like to guide them all the way to the end in the ACL."

He said every team has strengths and weaknesses and it was the responsibility of the coach to study them and prepare the game plan.

"The coach can only tell the players of their tasks and to use the perfect strategy. This is the theory, but in practicality it is up to the players to work according to the situations on the pitch."

And he is expecting a hard-fought encounter tonight.

"We respect Baniyas," he said. "They are a strong team with some good players like Andre Senghor [the Senegalese striker] and Francisco Yeste [ the Spanish midfielder], but we have also got quality in our side and are ready for them."

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