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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Marcus Berg: Al Ain must carry confidence form winning double into Asian Champions League

Swedish striker has been a revelation in his debut season at the Garden City club, scoring 36 goals in 35 appearances

Marcus Berg will look to continue his fine goalscoring from for Al Ain into the Asian Champions League last 16. Victor Besa / The National
Marcus Berg will look to continue his fine goalscoring from for Al Ain into the Asian Champions League last 16. Victor Besa / The National

Marcus Berg says Al Ain will take the confidence from their historic double into this month’s Asian Champions League quarter-final clash as they seek to end the season on a perfect note.

The UAE champions, who secured the Arabian Gulf League title less than two weeks ago, defeated Al Wasl 2-1 in the President’s Cup final on Thursday in Abu Dhabi, with Berg grabbing the second goal. It marked the first time in the club’s 50-year history that they have won both competitions in the same campaign.

However, attention now shifts to the upcoming Champions League last-16 tie against Al Duhail. Al Ain face the Qatar champions across two legs, with the first encounter at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday before the two sides meet again in Doha the following week.

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Although he planned to celebrate the President’s Cup victory with his family immediately after Thursday's match, Berg is aware Al Ain have little time to bask in the glow of their latest success.

“I’m focused here now to help the team to hopefully make it to the next stage in the Champions League,” he said. “Of course, I’m happy and full of confidence that we won two trophies this year. But all the players have to bring the energy, the motivation, and the confidence from these games we’ve played so far.

“We have to take that confidence from the last few games of the season here. But it’s two different games. We play against a good opponent, so we have to go into it with new focus and full of energy.”

Berg has enjoyed a superb debut campaign with Al Ain. Signed last summer from Greek side Panathinaikos, the Sweden international’s goal against Wasl increased his tally to 36 in 35 appearances.

He has been integral to Al Ain’s domestic dominance this season, with the club ending almost three years without a trophy in stunning fashion.

“I’ve said it before, it’s not as easy as people believe,” Berg said. “It’s not easy to win every game like we do. We have to continue like this, two more games in the season and then we can relax a little bit.

“I don’t know if it’s a big secret. If you look at our squad, I think we have the best players, the best coaches. With all the respect to the other teams, we are the best team. We have shown that all season.

“I knew that I was coming to a fantastic team, but in the last few years we didn’t win anything. So two titles in my first year is fantastic for me and everyone in the club.”

Berg will lead the line for Sweden at this summer’s Fifa World Cup, although when asked about his national team’s chances in Russia, the striker responded: “Now it’s two more important games for me and then after I will refocus. I have one week before we have the first camp with Sweden. So it’s two games here and after I will start to focus on the World Cup.”