x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Gallo hails his charges

Al Ain's victory over Al Wahda in the Pro League could not have come at a better time ahead of their trips to China and Japan in the Asian Champions League (AFC), according to Alexandre Gallo, the coach.

Al Ain and Al Wahda players fight to the ball last night. Alexandre Gallo believes his side are coming good at the right time.
Al Ain and Al Wahda players fight to the ball last night. Alexandre Gallo believes his side are coming good at the right time.

Al Ain // Alexandre Gallo, the Al Ain coach, believes his team's victory over Al Wahda in the Pro League could not have come at a better time ahead of their trips to China and Japan in the Asian Champions League (AFC)

"It was a good result and comes at a good time," the Brazilian said. "We were a bit unlucky in the last few games as we couldn't finish some of the chances we created, but this time the players were more focused and completed the job.

"It was a big game for us and my players were excellent. They did everything that were expected from them and can take this confidence forward to the ACL matches.

"Although it was a grand win, we must now put this behind us and look for the two upcoming matches in China and Japan."

Gallo's team will leave for China on Saturday to play Hangzhou on April 6 and from there will fly over to Japan for their rescheduled fixture with Nagoya Grampus on April 12. The game was postponed following the earthquake and tsunami.

Elias, the Brazilian forward, put Al Ain ahead with a 26th-minute penalty and doubled the lead with a 35-yard shot early in the second half to end a 12-match run without victory. The result also took them to ninth spot and out of the relegation zone.

"We went through a frustrating period and I am glad that has ended," said Gallo, who was appointed on a six-month contract in January in place of Abdulhameed al Mishtiki, the Emirati coach.

"We are on a team building process. The confidence was very low when I took over but they are beginning to show improvement."

Josef Hickersberger, the Wahda coach, admitted his team lacked focus and were beaten by a better team on the night.

"Al Ain deserved to win because they played with a lot of commitment and were definitely better than us," said the Austrian. "The penalty was the turning point of the game though."

"We are concentrating on the upcoming ACL match with Al Ittihad and the President's Cup final with Jazira. We also rested a few players as they have all picked up a booking or two, and I don't want them to miss the cup final."

Hickersberger left out Hugo, the Brazilian midfielder, along with Mahmoud Khamis, Saeed al Kathiri, Haider Ali and Khalid Jalal. Wahda face Ittihad of Saudi Arabia, the two-time ACL champions, at home on April 5 and then play Jazira in the President's Cup final on April 11.

"We don't have any hopes in the league and the best we can do is to try and finish as high as possible," Hickersberger said. "Our realistic chance is to win the President's Cup and then try to go beyond the group stage in the ACL.

"I'm not trying to take anything away from Al Ain's victory. We don't come for a game with a defeatist attitude. We want to win every game but we were beaten by a better team on the night."