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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Quique Sanchez Flores wants Al Ain to be inspired at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium

Quique Sanchez Flores, the Al Ain coach, has urged his team to “be part of history” and begin life at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium with a victory.
Al Ain coach Quique Sánchez Flores is asking his team to seize the moment of history as they open the new Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium against Al Dhafra. Satish Kumar / The National
Al Ain coach Quique Sánchez Flores is asking his team to seize the moment of history as they open the new Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium against Al Dhafra. Satish Kumar / The National

Quique Sanchez Flores, the Al Ain coach, has urged his team to “be part of history” and begin life at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium with a victory.

“It is a very important day for the club,” he said. “It is a big and auspicious occasion, and we must match the occasion with a really good performance and result.”

Al Ain, the 11-time league champions, will inaugurate the 25,000-seat stadium tonight with a meeting against Al Dhafra.

“The occasion itself is motivation enough for the players to provide a stand-out performance,” Sanchez Flores said.

“Every player would want to be a part of this history and I am sure they will [produce] an outstanding performance to make a winning start at this beautiful stadium.”

Bakary Sare, the midfielder from Ivory Coast who replaced Brazilian Michel Bastos in Al Ain’s squad this month, will make his debut for the Garden City club and is cherishing the occasion.

“This is an opportunity for him to impress everyone,” Sanchez Flores said. “He can add value to the team. Actually, Sheikh Abdullah [bin Mohammed – the chairman of the club’s board of directors] has a greater influence on the foreign players. He spends more time and puts in more effort to see that the club signs the best available players. He is very close to the players and always checks on their welfare and needs.”

Sare, 23, is on loan from Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb and is the only change in Al Ain’s foreign contingent so far in the mid-season transfer window, which closes on February 3. Al Ain are in sixth place on 23points, 10 behind leaders Al Ahli with 11 rounds left in the Arabian Gulf League.

Dhafra are also on 23 but in fifth above Al Ain on goal difference. They edged Al Ain 4-3 in their first league meeting on September 29, the day before Sanchez Flores took charge.

“They are above us and that means they are a good team,” Sanchez Flores said. “We need to match them with our speed and skills, and need the fans behind us to win the three points. The team has improved a lot technically as well and we made over 500 passes in a [recent] game.

“We only need to be good in making some decisive passes inside the box. I had to wait for a long time to have success when I was at Al Ahli, but I see Al Ain are achieving the success rate on a faster scale. So I am quite happy with the progress.

“Hopefully the new stadium will inspire all of us to turn our fortunes around.”

apassela@thenational.ae

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