x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Pressure points for Paulo Bonamigo and Al Jazira

Brazilian coach needs a victory as Jazira have lost two of their first four games, while opponents Al Ain have won their last three matches.

Paulo Bonamigo left Al Shabab to take over at as coach of Al Jazira.
Paulo Bonamigo left Al Shabab to take over at as coach of Al Jazira.

ABU DHABI // Paulo Bonamigo will be under pressure to lead Al Jazira out of their current predicament in the Pro League.

They meet Al Ain, the defending champions, tonight and are desperate for a much-needed three points after a stuttering start to the season.

The 2011 champions have struggled since the Brazilian coach took charge in the summer and have lost two of their four league games, including a shock 2-1 away defeat to the promoted Al Dhafra last week.

Bonamigo is aware of the pressure on him, as well on his players, but insisted that will not change anything for tonight's game at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

"It is the same pressure for us like any other game," he said. "Both teams are looking forward to a win. After our loss against Dhafra, three points against Al Ain is a priority.

"We must play high-level football because the game itself asks for a high-level performance. There is everything in it to be a great game."

Bonamigo has his players mentally prepared and has been working out the best strategy to counter Al Ain.

"We have two or three different kinds of strategies for each game," he said. "It depends on the opponents. Sometimes it is marking; sometimes it is being more offensive. But we are looking for the right balance against Al Ain."

In their last meeting, Jazira went down 5-4 to Al Ain in a penalty shoot-out after a scoreless draw in the Super Cup. Bonamigo said the result as a psychological setback for his players.

"We focused a lot on the Super Cup at the start of the season," he said. "The way we lost, we felt that. It affected the players. We had high expectations.

"We played a very good game. In the 90 minutes, we had our chances to win the game and we lost it in a penalty shoot-out. It affected our players and Al Ain profited from the result."

"Al Jazira are working to get back to the same performance like it used to. There are some players who are still not at their best. We are trying to get them back to their best."

Al Ain will be on a high after winning their last three games 4-1, 7-0 and 5-1 against Ajman, Dhafra and Dibba Al Fujairah.

"The last three results after losing the opener to Al Ahli have been pretty good but that doesn't guarantee a win over Jazira," Cosmin Olaroiu, the Al Ain coach, said. "Jazira's defeat to Dhafra doesn't make them any weaker.

"Remember, they defeated Ahli. So they are a very strong side and we expect them to come very hard at us.

"This is a pressure game for Jazira and whether it would work in their favour or our favour is to be seen. I wish it will be in our favour."

The defending champions will be at full strength, aside from Mohammed Salem, the defender who serves a one-match ban for the red card he picked up against Dibba.

Al Ain beat Jazira in both league games last season, winning 3-1 in the capital and 2-0 on their home pitch, a victory which allowed them to clinch their 10th top-flight title.

apassela@thenational.ae

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