x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Mahmoud hopes to restore belief

The Al Ain caretaker coach Rasheed Mahmoud has called on his players to forget the past few days and focus on winning tonight's game with Al Wasl.

The Al Ain caretaker coach Rasheed Mahmoud has called on his players to forget the past few days and focus on winning tonight's game with Al Wasl at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium (KO 8pm). The Moroccan is in charge for one match before the former Al Shabab coach Toninho Cerezo takes over for the rest of the season. The Brazilian replaces Winfried Schaefer, who was sacked after the team suffered two defeats in succession.

Schaefer's two-year tenure ended on Wednesday after a 1-0 loss to Al Wahda in the Pro League which left them five points behind the leaders Al Jazira. That defeat, coupled with a shock loss to 10-man Ajman in the President's Cup the week before, was enough to lose him his job. "It is a difficult period for all of us but we must not lose heart," said Mahmoud. "Instead we should be looking at the task ahead and try to win this game. It will not only help the team move forward but restore confidence."

Al Ain will be without Chilean midfielder Jorge Valdivia, who is still suffering from the groin injury he picked up while playing for his national team in a friendly against Slovakia a fortnight ago, and the defender Mohammed Fayez who has a knee ligament injury. Meanwhile, Wahda travel to Ras al Khaimah for a clash with Emirate (KO 4.40pm) without defenders Basheer Saeed and Hamdan al Kamali, who are both serving one-match bans.

On Friday night, the Iraqi forward Mustafa Karim struck a second-half equaliser for Sharjah as they drew 1-1 at Al Shabab. Suroor Salem had put the home side ahead in the 19th minute. Andre Senghor's second minute goal was enough for 10-man Baniyas to win 1-0 against Al Dhafra last night. Abdoulaye Cisse missed a penalty for Dhafra before Hassan Zahran was sent off just before the break.

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