x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Hasek taking title challenge one step at a time

The Al Ahli coach looks no further than next week's visit to Al Jazira as the team campaign on three fronts.

As he plots Al Ahli's campaign on three fronts, the AFC Champions League, Pro League and the Emirates Cup, in the coming weeks, coach Ivan Hasek will "not be looking beyond the next game". The Red Knights inflicted Al Wahda's fourth straight defeat on Sunday to stay two points behind Pro League leaders Al Jazira, who they play next in Abu Dhabi on Friday.The convincing 3-0 win avenged the 4-1 drubbing that Ahli received at Wahda in October.

"This win is one important step in the league," he said. "The next step is more important. We play against Al Jazira and we don't have too many days to prepare for this important game. "Some players have three cards, some other players may have some small injury. We need to prepare well for this very important next game against Jazira." The clash at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium could be seen as must-win for Ahli's hopes of winning the league.

Hasek, however, is trying to keep the pressure off his players. "It is one of the most important games for us," he said. "But we have other difficult games in the future. In fact, every game is difficult. In the league, not a single game is easy." Wahda are languishing in eighth place with just 15 points after 14 rounds and coach Josef Hickersberger was left to rue a disallowed goal in the 41st minute, which would have drawn the visitors level.

Ameen al Ribati headed in but it was chalked off for offside. "We have been having problems scoring, and when we scored a regular goal, it was disallowed," said the coach. "That was never, ever an offside because the ball was in the air for maybe three or four seconds and nobody touched it. "A few moments later we conceded the second goal and that was a decisive moment. "Then, of course, Al Ahli gave a brilliant performance. They controlled the match very well and did not allow us to score. For that reason they deserved this win."

arizvi@thenational.ae