x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Facing Al Wahda,‘players will get naturally excited’ says Quique Sanchez Flores

Quique Sanchez Flores is looking for Al Ain to keep their focus when they meet Al Wahda in an Abu Dhabi derby on Friday night. On the other touchline, Karel Jarolim is not worried that his club are considered underdogs.

Quique Sanchez Flores will be coaching Al Ain for the first time in Arabian Gulf League play, but says he had no special preparation plans in facing Al Wahda. ,Pawan Singh / The National
Quique Sanchez Flores will be coaching Al Ain for the first time in Arabian Gulf League play, but says he had no special preparation plans in facing Al Wahda. ,Pawan Singh / The National

ABU DHABI // After leading Al Ain to a league win and four points in two League Cup matches, Quique Sanchez Flores is looking for his side to keep their focus when they meet Al Wahda in an Abu Dhabi derby on Friday night.

Asamoah Gyan scored three goals on Sunday as Al Ain bounced back from a shock 4-3 defeat to Al Dhafra to secure a 5-2 win over Dubai, the holders’ first Arabian Gulf League game under the Spaniard.

“Our objective is to be prepared to face any team and win every game, regardless if it is a derby or not,” Flores said.

“There is no need to make special preparation or motivate the players ahead of a big game like against Wahda. The players will get naturally excited and get their focus on the game.”

Flores led Dubai’s Al Ahli to a President’s Cup triumph and to second in the league last season. He was appointed the Al Ain coach four weeks ago, after the Uruguayan Jorge Fossati was dismissed seven weeks into his tenure.

Karel Jarolim, the Wahda coach, compared the meeting at the Al Nahyan Stadium to the Jeddah derby between Al Ahli and Al Ittihad in Saudi Arabia.

“This game in Saudi draws more than 30,000 fans,” said the Czech, who coached the Saudi Arabian Ahli for two seasons from 2011 before moving to Wahda in the summer. “I expect a good and close game between two leading teams.

“Everybody thinks Al Ain are the favourites and I, as a coach, won’t mind going into this game with the underdog tag because it relieves the pressure on the high expectations from our fans.

“We obviously will not play as an underdog, though. I have a lot of faith on my players to challenge any team. We have quality in every line as do Al Ain.

“I have told my players to concentrate on the 90 minutes and we can win the three points, hopefully.”

Jarolim’s defence will be severely weakened with Hamdan Al Kamali and Eisa Ahmed, the UAE internationals, and Hussain Fadhel, the Kuwait centre-back, all sitting out the game through suspension.

“It is indeed a problem when you don’t have three of the most experienced players in the defence, but we have no choice other than fill in the void with those available,” he said.

Sebastian Tagliabue, the Argentine striker who has four goals in four league games, is relishing the challenge in a contest between him and Gyan, the Ghana captain and leading scorer in the Arabian Gulf League for the past two seasons.

“I am not in competition with Gyan for the golden boot, but this is a contest between two teams and a win for the team will be above all individual performances,” Tagliabue said.

“Of course, I will do my best to score for my team and that’s my job, but it really doesn’t matter who will score as long as we win. I will be happy if I can assist or able to play a decent role for a good result for my team.”

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Friday’s other games

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Al Dhafra v Al Jazira

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Abdullah Misfir, the Al Dhafra coach, has warned his players against complacency when they meet Al Jazira at the Hamdan bin Zayed Stadium. Dhafra are on a high after impressive league victories over Al Ain (4-3) and Sharjah (3-0), but the Emirati coach said the future matters more. “They just need to continue playing at the same good level,” he said. “We can beat any team if we respect the others and play to our true potential.”

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Ajman v Al Wasl

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Ajman go into their home match against Al Wasl buoyed by their first point of the season, against Al Jazira last week. “It took us five games last season to win our first point and this time we have achieved it in four,” said Abdulwahab Abdulqader, the Ajman manager. “Hopefully, we can take this momentum forward.” This will be Wasl’s first game under the caretaker coach Saleem Abdelrahman after the Dubai club dismissed the Frenchman Laurent Banide in the aftermath of the 3-1 league defeat to Al Shabab.

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Dubai v Sharjah

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Paulo Bonamigo, the Sharjah coach, wants to redeem some of the promoted side’s battered pride, after losing to Al Dhafra 3-0 at home, when they meet Dubai in Al Awir on Friday night. “It was one of those games where nothing worked for us, but we certainly are better team than that scoreline suggests,” the Brazilian said. Bonamigo believes his team can bounce back and consolidate their position in the middle of the league table. Dubai, led by the Swiss Martin Rueda, find themselves uncomfortably close to the relegation zone, with one victory in four games.

apassela@thenational.ae

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