x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Schaefer happy to play catch up

When Winfried Schaefer guided Al Ahli to the league title in 2006, they were trailing Al Wahda by eight points with 10 games left.

DUBAI // When Winfried Schaefer guided Al Ahli to the league title in 2006, they were trailing Al Wahda by eight points with 10 games left. The German coach is convinced he can repeat the feat with Al Ain in the inaugural Pro League, where the nine-time champions are in third, four points behind leaders Ahli with seven games to go.

"What is three or six points," said Schaefer after a battling goalless draw at Al Shabab on Friday night. "Three years ago my club Ahli were eight points behind Al Wahda around the same stage and we won the title. "You see, Barcelona had such a big lead in Spain over Real Madrid and what happened now? [Real had reduced a 12-point lead to four points before last night's games] So I am not worried."

A victory against Shabab would have put Ain level on 35 points with Al Jazira, who lost 4-2 at home to Ahli. Schaefer, how-ever, was not disappointed with a point from the exciting clash at the Maktoum Stadium. He said: "The boys fought hard and tried their best. In the second-half, they worked even harder to score, but we had to settle for a draw. I am happy for both the teams. This was a really good match for everybody. So we should congratulate both the teams because this was one of the best matches in the recent past.

"Sometimes you can play very bad football, like we did in our last game against Al Khaleej, and win three points. Tonight we played a great game and got one point. This is football." Toninho Cerezo, the Shabab coach said: "We are happy to get one point, it is important for us." The draw maintains Shabab's resurgence following the winter break. They have reaped eight of their 18 points from the last four games. "It was time for us to start performing," added Cerezo.

"If we had not made this turnaround, I believe it would have been time for us to go to the airport and fly home." arizvi@thenational.ae