x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Cosmin Olaroiu warns Al Ain players not to underestimate Al Shaab

The champions take on the promoted club, Al Wasl hope fans turn out to cheer side on against Kalba, Al Wahda face Ajman and Al Shabab meet Dibba.

AL AIN , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Oct 14 : Cosmin Olaroiu , Coach of Al Ain during the Etisalat Cup round 3 football match between Al Wahda vs Al Ain at Tahnoun Bin Mohammed Stadium in Al Ain. ( Pawan Singh / The National )
AL AIN , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Oct 14 : Cosmin Olaroiu , Coach of Al Ain during the Etisalat Cup round 3 football match between Al Wahda vs Al Ain at Tahnoun Bin Mohammed Stadium in Al Ain. ( Pawan Singh / The National )

Al Ain are huge favourites against Al Shaab but that seems to be a reason for concern for their coach Cosmin Olaroiu.

The Pro League champions have scored a remarkable 19 goals in their last four wins and the Romanian says getting their noses in front early in matches is affecting his players' concentration.

"There shouldn't be any let up on the consistency level of our play and that we can achieve only if we treat our opponents with respect," Olaroiu said. "Most of the time, every one including the players, take things for granted against teams that are at the bottom of the league and then pay a heavy price.

"We cannot drop any points from such matches because these are points that will really matter towards the end.

"Another problem is that whenever we score early the players tend to lose concentration. It happened against Al Ahli, Al Shabab and in the last match against Dubai. This has been addressed to the players time and again, and I hope it has sunk in to them."

Al Ain are ahead of Baniyas on at the top of the table on 22 points, while Shaab are third bottom.

"That doesn't guarantee us a win," Olaroiu said.

"Shaab are not a bad side. They have been a bit unlucky in some of their matches. They were leading 2-0 against Al Dhafra before the 2-2 result in the last match. Nobody can deny they don't have quality."

Elsewhere, after two humiliating defeats, Al Wahda are on a mission to restore some pride away at Ajman, who themselves were thrashed 5-0 at Baniyas in their last match.

"What can I say when we are beaten by six goals at home? It is very disappointing," said coach Branko Ivankovic. "The only way to win the confidence of our fans is to win this match."

Wahda will be without Ismail Matar, their influential captain, who is recovering from a knee injury he suffered against Al Nasr two weeks ago.

To compound Matar's absence along with Salem Saleh and Mohammed Shaibah is the one-match bans for Eisa Ahmed, the defender, and Khaled Jalal, the midfielder, both for accumalating three yellow cards.

Guy Lacombe, the Al Wasl coach, has urged fans to end their boycott of the team and fill the stands against Kalba.

"There is a need for everyone at the club to unite and help the team get over this phase and return to winning ways," the Frenchman said.

Upset with the recent performances of the team, the Wasl fans have decided to stay away from the matches. The club management has held meetings with the representatives of these fans over the last few days to resolve the issue.

Having ended their 61-day wait for a Pro League win in the last round, Al Shabab are hoping to keep their recovery going when they meet Dibba Al Fujairah.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE