x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Schaefer again aims for an Al Ain clean sweep

Winfried Schaefer says he was not arrogant when he declared he wanted to win "all" last season.

Emerson, Al Ain's new striker, is unveiled on Sunday.
Emerson, Al Ain's new striker, is unveiled on Sunday.

AL AIN // Winfried Schaefer says he was not arrogant when he declared he wanted to win "all" last season. "I only expressed my sentiment," said the German. "It is the desire of every manager for the team to always do well and achieve more success at every competition. And I am hopeful to achieve more with five trophies to play for this season.

"We won two cups, but the real challenge this season is to win the Pro League and earn the right to play in next year's Fifa Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi. This is the best incentive the league can offer this season, and it will be the goal of every club to play alongside the best clubs around the world." Schaefer's team will face the league champions Al Ahli in the season opening Super Cup on September 23 before their opening Pro League clash with Al Nasr at home five days later.

The date for the Super Cup was the subject of much confusion, with various dates being rejected due to clashes with the festival of Eid-al Fitr and that fact that the venue - Dubai Sports City - would not be ready in time for a proposed September 17 fixture. The new date has been fixed after the opening Pro League matches of the two clubs were rescheduled to September 28. "We had a problem in getting a neutral venue as the stadiums in Abu Dhabi are undergoing refurbishment for the Club World Cup," said Dr Tareq al Tayer, president of the Professional League Association. "We have compromised by changing the Pro League fixtures of the two clubs, so they have five days before their matches."

Schaefer was speaking at the unveiling of Brazilian forward Emerson, who completes the club's line-up of three foreigners alongside Jorge Valdivia, the Chile playmaker, and the Argentine striker Jose Sand. "Emerson has played at the top level in Brazil, Japan, Qatar and France, and with Valdivia and Sand, I think we have a strong foreign presence," added Schaefer. "However, a lot will depend on the contribution of the local players. Emerson has been here for two days and he has already beaten me for a can of coca-cola over a World Cup qualifying match by predicting the winner Brazil. It goes to show he knows what he is talking about."

Emerson, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday following the signing of his two-year contract for an undisclosed sum, said: "I want to do the best when I'm playing. I had two other offers but I thought that Al Ain offered me the best." Emerson admitted he had a fair knowledge of the UAE league. "I was following the UAE games when I was in Qatar. And the experience of playing in Qatar will certainly be helpful. I know Al Ain is one of the top teams and I wish I can contribute to their success."

His move to France was not a successful one. Emerson recalled: "I left Al Sadd because I got a good offer. But it didn't go well. My family couldn't adapt, so I decided to return to Qatar." Emerson has the name of his two-year-old son Henry, named after the France international Thierry Henry, tattooed on his forearm. And he says: "Henry is my friend and one of my favourite players I have named my second son after him."

Emerson, who has a dual citizenship, signed for Al Ain as a foreign player. He was granted Qatari citizenship in 2008 but, after making his debut for Qatar, it was later revealed Emerson had played for the Brazil Under 20 side which made him ineligible to play for the Qatar. @Email:apassela@thenational.ae