x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Gallo's youngsters ready to stake a claim against FC Seoul

Alexandre Gallo has signalled where Al Ain's priorities lie for the rest of the season by selecting a team from a second-string squad to face FC Seoul today.

Alenxandre Gallo, the Al Ain coach, only arrived in South Korea yesterday morning to take charge of tonight's match.
Alenxandre Gallo, the Al Ain coach, only arrived in South Korea yesterday morning to take charge of tonight's match.

Alexandre Gallo has signalled where Al Ain's priorities lie for the rest of the season by selecting a team from a second-string squad to face FC Seoul today.

The coach said after Al Ain's 3-2 defeat to Al Shabab in the Etisalat Cup final on Friday that most of his starters would not make the 10-hour trip to South Korea, even though they still have an outside chance of advancing out of Group F in the Asian Champions League. And he has been true to his word.

The travelling squad includes only one player who was in the first team for the cup final, the midfielder Shebab Ahmed, and one substitute who played in that game, Abdulaziz Fayez, who is also a midfielder.

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Even Gallo did not join the rest of the squad until yesterday morning, leaving Mauricio Cupertino, the assistant coach, to take Monday's training session. Also in the party is the Romanian striker Valentin Badea, who has yet to score for the club, as well as Ismail Rabea, the veteran goalkeeper. The rest of the squad have been left behind to prepare for Sunday's Pro League game with Al Ahli.

Ahmed points out that the likes of Bandar Mohammed, Hadaf Amri and Hamad al Marri all have experience of Asian Champions League football, while Muhammad Ali Ayed al Shammari caught the eye against Hangzhou last time out.

"Everyone who wears the Al Ain jersey is a main player and it is football," Ahmed said. "I read the reports that Al Ain will play with the reserve team, but if we think deeply, we find who the squad contains players that have good experience of the Asian matches.

"Any player who wears Al Ain jersey should be trustworthy and tonight we will prove ourselves."

Al Merri, the 19-year-old midfielder, is hoping to stake a claim for a regular starting place in the team with a solid show tonight.

"I'm looking for showing my best in the coming match against Seoul to prove myself worthy to wear the Al Ain jersey," he said.

"I think it is the main target of every young player. Therefore, I'm ready and waiting for a sign from our coach at any time and I wish we get the best of luck and win the match against Seoul."