x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Etisalat Cup: Al Ain lose key players to international duty

Al Ain missing Asamoah Gyan and Omar Abdulrahman, but Brosque will play before joining Australia in Doha, while Baniyas wary of Jazira's strong squad

Asamoah Gyan is away on international duty with Ghana.
Asamoah Gyan is away on international duty with Ghana.

ABU DHABI // Cosmin Olaroiu will look to his fringe players to stake a claim for regular inclusion as Al Ain face Dubai in their opening Etisalat Cup match tonight minus a number of key performers away on international duty.

Striker Asamoah Gyan has linked up with Ghana for their African Cup of Nations qualifier against Malawi, while Dawoud Sulaiman, Mohanad Al Enazi, Mohammed Ahmed and Omar Abdulrahman have joined the UAE squad for the friendlies against Uzbekistan and Bahrain. Jires Kembo Ekoko, the Congolese forward, misses the game through injury.

"We have to cope with those absent players due to national duty and we'll need all the key players available to be ready for a game," Olaroiu, the Al Ain coach, said. "The Etisalat Cup is also an opportunity for those players who don't get a regular place in the line-up show their potential on the pitch."

One player Olaroiu can call on is Alex Brosque, the Australia international signed last week from the J-League side Shimizu S-Pulse.

The midfielder, who turns 29 on Friday, enjoyed an impressive debut for his new club at the weekend, scoring a goal and laying on an assist after coming on as a substitute in the 7-0 thrashing of Al Dhafra in the Pro League. He will join up with the Socceroos in Doha after the match for their 2014 World Cup qualifier against Iraq next week.

Dubai, who are expected to be at full strength, have made a sound start to the domestic campaign and are already off the mark in Group A having beaten Al Shaab in their opening Etisalat Cup match.

Al Ain did not play in the first round of Etisalat Cup games because of a clash with the Super Cup match against Al Jazira.

Jazira open their Group B campaign away to Baniyas tonight also hampered by international call-ups and injury.

Paulo Bonamigo's side are without UAE goalkeepers Ali Kasheif and Khaled Essa, while Matias Delgado, the Argentine midfielder, is nursing a leg injury.

However, Jozef Chovanec, the Baniyas coach, does not think those absentees will necessarily result in Jazira fielding a weakened team.

"They have a strong bench and players like Ricardo Oliveira, Fernandinho and Ibrahim Diaky can make a lot of difference," he said. "We too have a few players absent, two of them have joined the national team and a few are recovering from injuries. However, the concept of this competition is to provide fringe players an opportunity at a time when the national team is down to play."

Mohammed Fawzi and Amer Abdulrahman are the Baniyas players called up for national duty while Mohamed Zidan, the Egyptian forward, is recovering from a hamstring injury.

apassela@thenational.ae

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