Esperance manager Mouine Chaabani hoping for local Tunisian support against Al Ain in Fifa Club World Cup showdown
The African Champions League winners face the Arabian Gulf League champions on Saturday at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium
Esperance de Tunis manager Mouine Chaabani believes his side will have plenty of support in Saturday's Fifa Club World Cup quarter-final in Al Ain despite them playing the host nation's side on their own turf.
"There are large number of Esperance fans residing in the UAE and the neighbouring countries," said the Tunisian manager on Friday ahead of the clash at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium with the Arabian Gulf League champions, which kicks off at 8.30pm. "We expect a good number of them to be present at the stadium. They will our 12th player."
Chaabani was impressed with Al Ain's spirit as they fought back from being three goals down at one stage on Wednesday to beat Team Wellington in the play-off tie and said he and his team would be taking their challenge very seriously.
“Al Ain showed real character when they came from 3-0 down to win against Team Wellington and any side that can do that against any team will need no more motivation,” he said.
“They have good players, especially the foreigners who can make a difference and change the situation of the game at any time.
“As for us, we are the CAF champions and the best to arrive from the continent and want to put our best performance in the competition.”
Esperance won the African Champions League in November, beating Egypt's Al Ahly in the final, and they have kept up the good results since, winning five and drawing one of their past six domestic matches.
“We have maintained the same level of performance and confidence, and hopefully, take this momentum forward when we play Al Ain,” Chaabani added.
“The team’s success has been a combination of more than one factor, firstly the harmony between the players and the technical staff, the other is the support from the club management and of course the fans."
Chaabani does not believe the fact that Al Ain had to play 120 minutes on Wednesday, and then go through the rigours of a penalty shoot-out, will hamper them.
“The fact they won the match after being in a very difficult position will motivate them more and make a big difference for them throughout the tournament,” he added.
Updated: December 15, 2018 08:54 AM