x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Hasek warns his side of Ajman threat

Assuncao challenges Al Shaab's Joodvin Atram.
Assuncao challenges Al Shaab's Joodvin Atram.

DUBAI // Ivan Hasek, the Al Ahli coach, has told his side to be ready for a fight when they host the "dangerous" Ajman tonight. The Super Cup winners opened their Pro League campaign with an impressive 4-2 win at Al Nasr on Friday, while Ajman missed a hatful of chances in their 1-0 loss to Al Wasl at home. "We know that it is not going to be an easy game for us," said Hasek. "We are playing at home against a team who will be having great motivation to do well against us. They did not play badly in the first game against Wasl. They had plenty of chances, but were unlucky. They had more chances than Al Wasl.

"We saw that game and I think Ajman are a dangerous side. They are technically very strong. We will need to play with full concentration and be ready for a fight." Ajman earned promotion to the top league after coming second in the First Division behind Al Khaleej. They have strengthened their ranks since with the addition of the Iranian do Ali Samereh and Javad Kazemian, and the Moroccan playmaker Abdulhaq Ait Aarif.

Hasek added: "If we don't win against Ajman, the win over Al Nasr will mean nothing. So it is a very important game for us." In the other games tonight, the defending champions Al Shabab travel to Al Sharjah without their captain Marcos Assuncao. Assuncao was sent-off in the second half of the 2-0 win over Al Shaab on Saturday after picking up two yellow cards within seconds. Salem Saad, who wore the captain's armband last season, admits Shabab will miss Assuncao, but is confident his coach Toninho Cerezo will find a tacital solution. "Assuncao is a very big player and his experience is invaluable," said Saad. "So we are going to miss him at Sharjah - he is a player you cannot really replace. Having said that, I am sure the coach will find someone good enough for Assuncao's spot - someone who can play at the same level."

Sharjah were thrashed 4-0 in their opening game at Al Ain, but coach Youssef al Zawawi insists that result is already behind them. "This is just the start of the league and we cannot lose heart from one game," he said. arizvi@thenational.ae