x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Champions League success is the top target for al Owais

Al Ain team manager Majid al Owais is determined to end his club's six years of hurt in the AFC Champions League (ACL).

Al Ain team manager Majid al Owais is determined to end his club's six years of hurt in the AFC Champions League (ACL). After Al Ain won Champions League in 2003 there were street parties across the United Arab Emirates with football fans celebrating as one. The club reached the ACL finals again the next season, winning their ninth national league title along the way. Since then though, both Asian and league success have eluded them and they are desperate to end the drought.

"We are hoping to go all the way in Asia," said al Owais. "That is our top target for next year; the second is to win the Pro League title and qualify for the 2010 Fifa Club World Cup." Al Ain were in line for the domestic treble last season after winning the Emirates and President's Cups. But a loss to Al Nasr at home in the 16th round of the Pro League virtually ended their hopes of a clean sweep.

Winfried Schaefer's side will get a chance to avenge that defeat when they host Al Nasr in the opening round of the Pro League on September 25, and al Owais is looking forward to that game. "For the last two or three years, we have lost to Al Nasr quite a few times," he said. "So we want to set the record straight this time. Of course, we will be out for revenge." Before the Nasr game, Al Ain will take on Pro League champions Al Ahli for the Super Cup on September 22 and they are keen to make a winning start to the season.

"I believe we are stronger than last year," said al Owais. "We had a good camp in Switzerland first and some strong friendly matches against the likes of Valencia and Villarreal in Spain. "The players are feeling really confident after those games and they have gained a lot in experience. "So I believe we are ready and focused on winning all the four trophies at home - the Super Cup, the Pro league, the etisalat Emirates Cup and the President's Cup."

@Email:arizvi@thenational.ae