x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Jordan fills the Nasr void

Cristophe Jordan is forced into the hot seat Al Nasr after coach Luka Bonacic walks away following disagreements with management.

Nasr's Mehrzad Madanchi, in blue, tries to get between two Al Ahli players.
Nasr's Mehrzad Madanchi, in blue, tries to get between two Al Ahli players.

DUBAI // Cristophe Jordan has been forced into the hot seat Al Nasr after coach Luka Bonacic walked away following disagreements with the management. And there couldn't have been a tougher time for him to step up. The Austrian, who has been installed on a temporary basis, will guide his side against the might of Al Ain tonight in a Group C match of the Etisalt Cup without his talismanic striker Mohammed Omar and influential midfielder Mohammed Ibrahim, both of whom are on national duty at the Gulf Cup. His team will not be playing at home either - the match has been moved to Al Wasl - and this might be his only game in charge as the German coach Frank Pajelsdorf is already in town for talks to take the job.

Ain will also be missing their UAE stars for the game with Ali Wehaibi, Abdullah Malallah, Faris Jumaa, Mohanad Salem al Enazy and Mohammed Fayyez in Oman. But with Jorge Valdivia, Andre Diaz and Andre Senghor leading the attack, coach Winfried Schaefer should have few worries on the field. "We are top of the group and we want to consolidate our position with a victory against Nasr," said the German. "The game will also be a good opportunity for us to try out some youngsters in place of the national players."

Al Ahli, who are at the bottom of Group C, will travel to Ajman seeking their first win of the tournament after a loss at Nasr and a draw against Ain. "We have to win not just this match but every game we take part in," said coach Ivan Hasek. "We need to use these cup games to be ready for the next round of matches. We have got to play better than we are doing. We will be fighting on the domestic and international fronts with the AFC Champions League coming up, so we have to be prepared mentally and physically for the upcoming period. We have to make sure our bench is strong with enough match practice."

In Group A, Al Shabab will host Al Dhafra with coach Toninho Cerezo keen to stay in the hunt for trophies after a dismal show in the Pro League. Al Sharjah will travel to Al Wahda with their confidence high after a string of good results. They almost snatched an improbable draw on their last visit to Wahda, with two goals in the final three minutes after trailing 3-0 till the 87th minute.

In Group B, Pro-League strugglers Al Shaab and Al Khaleej will go head-to-head in Sharjah, with both sides keen for some respite from their league woes. arizvi@thenational.ae