UAE champions, second in standings going into finale at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, lost 2-1 in corresponding fixture in February, despite being better side
Henk ten Cate confident of Al Jazira improvement against Al Ahli Jeddah in final ACL group game
Al Jazira manager Hen ten Cate is intent on “setting something straight” when his side close out their Asian Champions League Group A campaign against Al Ahli Jeddah on Tuesday, where victory could ensure the Abu Dhabi club progress as pool winners.
The UAE champions, second in the standings going into finale at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, lost 2-1 in the corresponding fixture in February, despite being the better side.
Jazira spurned a number of chances in Jeddah, but have rebounded to seal a place in the knockout stages with one fixture to spare. They are three points off Ahli at the summit.
Ten Cate is convinced his team have more than enough quality to atone for that earlier loss, though, with Jazira advancing as group winners should they triumph by two or more goals.
“It’s interesting, because usually when two teams have qualified it is a game for nothing, but this is for first position in the group, which can be an advantage,” Ten Cate said. “We did not deserve to lose in Jeddah. I thought it was one of our better games this season.
“We really had them with their backs against the wall. We were unlucky with the finishing of the chances, but we had a lot of chances. So we want to set something straight. And if you win it’s always good. Because winning gives a good feeling. It gives you confidence. So I hope we win, of course. This is what we want to do.”
Jazira arrive at the match on the back of last week’s defeat to Al Wahda in the quarter-finals of the President’s Cup, stretching an unwelcome sequence to two wins in 10 outings. However, they can call upon the previously suspended Khalfan Mubarak, although goalkeeper Ali Kasheif will miss the match having picked up a booking in the last round against Qatar's Al Gharafa. In contrast, Mohammed Al Attas could be available after returning to training following injury.
Football in the UAE
Ahli, meanwhile, will look to consign to the past Thursday's events in the Saudi Arabian Pro League, when they lost out on the title to Al Hilal by a solitary point.
“It’s a very decent team, with good structure, disciplined and some physical power, with some good players,” Ten Cate said. “But not an opponent we lose sleep about. It’s an opponent we’ve played already and we were at least even in that game. So we’re looking forward with confidence. But, of course, every game is different.”