x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Determined Braga will not give up on the Champions League

The Al Jazira coach wants to qualify for the Club World Cup the harder way by winning the ACL even though they are yet to get off the mark.

Abel Braga's ambition since joining Al Jazira has been to see them play in the Club World Cup. The tournament will be hosted in Abu Dhabi for the second successive year in December, with about half of the games being played at Jazira's Mohammed bin Zayed stadium. The Brazilian has two ways of achieving his goal. "The easier option is to win the Pro League to qualify as the host team and the other is the harder option of winning the Asian Champions League [ACL]," he said.

Braga's side travel to Jeddah to face the Saudi side Al Ahli at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium in tonight's ACL Group A game. Jazira have one point from a 0-0 draw with Iran's Esteghlal and Ahli are yet to get off the mark after two games. Therefore, the match is crucial for both teams, as the losers are likely to see their chances of qualifying for the knockout rounds disappear. Al Gharafa, crowned the Qatar league champions for the third time on Friday, top the group with two wins. They face Esteghlal in the evening's other game.

"Our chances in the ACL will depend on the outcome of this game," said Braga. "One team will definitely find it very hard to remain in the competition. I hope it won't be us." Jazira are fighting on two fronts. They have dropped three points behind city rivals Al Wahda at the top of the Pro League and Braga will have to do a balancing act with his squad to try and keep the team's hopes alive in both competitions. But he insisted that neither competition is taking priority.

"I have no other thoughts than winning this game," added Braga. "It is true we are fighting on two fronts and we are concentrating on both. "We still have a lot of hopes to progress in the ACL and win the domestic league. We will lose nothing in attempting to win both." apassela@thenational.ae