x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Gyan’s double proves enough for Al Ain

Questions over the managerial vacancy at Al Ain were deferred for another day as the 11-time league champions celebrated their first league win under caretaker manager Ahmed Abdullah.

Ahmed Al Yassi, left, and his Ajman teammates had trouble slowing Asamoah Gyan of Al Ain. Satish Kumar / The National
Ahmed Al Yassi, left, and his Ajman teammates had trouble slowing Asamoah Gyan of Al Ain. Satish Kumar / The National

AL AIN 2

AJMAN 1

Al Ain Gyan 20’, 25’ Ajman Feindouno 77’

Man of the match Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain)

AL AIN // The questions over the managerial vacancy at Al Ain were deferred for another day as the 11-time league champions celebrated their first league win under caretaker manager Ahmed Abdullah.

Asamoah Gyan scored twice within five minutes as Al Ain held on to emerge 2-1 winners over Ajman Friday night at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium.

The Ghana captain expertly dispatched a header to the back of the net from a Michel Bastos cross and doubled the lead with a similar effort from a free kick from Ahmed Al Shamsi after 25 minutes.

Simon Feindouno pulled one back after Boris Kabi drew the defence out of position before slipping the ball towards the Guinean to score with a low shot towards the corner of the net but they failed to come up with a leveller.

Al Ain could have added a third, had Khalid Abdulrahman managed to steer his effort on target after a one-on-one attempt with Ali Mesmari, the Ajman keeper. The Emirati midfielder was set up inside the box by a spectacular back-heel pass from Gyan, but could not find the back of the net.

“We entered the pitch with a lot of determination to win the three points and I am really glad we managed to achieve that goal,” said Abdullah, a former captain and long-time assistant coach at the club. “We could have won by a bigger margin had we scored from the chances we created, but I am not complaining.

“The three points means a lot to us and it certainly is a morale booster for me and the players. I am fully satisfied that we now have a league win ticked on the points table.

“We take a lot of positives from this result. The team can certainly take this confidence forward and get better and better. We have a game coming up and the focus will be to prepare well and win another three points.”

Al Ain face Al Dhafra away on Friday and it remains unclear whether the club will have a permanent coach in place by then.

“I can’t talk about the coaching situation. It is for the club management to deal with and I am sure they will find a solution soon,” Abdullah said. “The management has given me a task to carry out and I am happy to do it as long as they need me. My focus is to prepare the team for the next game and I will do my best to have them ready, both mentally and physically.

“The result against Ajman must surely have done a world of good to the players.”

The Ajman coach, Abdulwahab Abdulqader, attributed Gyan’s quickfire double and mistakes at the back for their defeat.

“We couldn’t score from the early chances we created and then we conceded two quick goals through poor defending,” he said.

Kabi’s effort off a through pass was blocked by Khalid Essa, the Al Ain keeper, and the Ivorian forward’s powerfully struck header breezed over the crossbar.

They had another opportunity to close the gap early in the second half, but the Kuwaiti midfielder Yousuf Nasser’s effort on an open goal was sent wide.

“It was very hard for us to come back against a team like Al Ain after conceding two quick goals,” Abdulqader said.

“This is the second time we lost a game because of defensive mistakes. This is because we have some injuries to key players and we don’t have the finances to have a bigger squad.

“Last season, we lost the first five games so we are hopeful we can pick up at some point and get on the winning trail soon.”

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SATURDAY’S PREVIEWS

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SHARJAH v AL SHABAB

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Paulo Bonamigo believes his Sharjah side can build on their excellent start in their return to the top flight when they meet Al Shabab on Saturday. The Brazilian, who coached Shabab for nearly three seasons, has led Sharjah to a 3-1 League Cup victory over Al Jazira and a 1-0 win over Al Wasl in the league.

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AL NASR v AL SHAAB

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Ivan Jovanovic’s Al Nasr will want to bounce back from their opening defeat when they play host to Al Shaab, but will be without their Brazilian captain, Leonardo Lima, suspended for a red card. However, Habib Fardan, the UAE international, has recovered from a muscle pull and will play.*

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AL JAZIRA v AL WASL

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Ricardo Oliveira, Al Jazira’s striker and captain, said early results are vital. “It was very important to win the first league game and now we want to win the second a bit more impressively,” he said. “Playing ... in front of our fans, will provide us a big incentive to raise our levels from the first game.”

apassela@thenational.ae