x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Suspended Oliveira hard player to replace, says coach Vercauteren

The Al Jazira coach has ruled out experimenting with any of his players in an effort to replicate the forward.

ABU DHABI // Franky Vercauteren, the Al Jazira coach, acknowledged that it will be difficult to fill the void left by Ricardo Oliveira when his team meet Al Ain in a top-of-the-table clash in the Pro League on Thursday night at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

The former AC Milan forward is serving a one-match ban for three yellow cards and Vercauteren said: "We don't have another Oliveira in the team.

"We don't have many options, but the two alternatives are to get a player as close as possible to his profile, which means speedy reaction and the ability to score goals, and the other is to get someone with another profile or other qualities to play a different role."

Vercauteren ruled out experimenting with any of his players in an effort to replicate Oliveira.

"I don't want to change the quality of the player by making him to do what he cannot do or ask any player to do things they are not used to doing," he said.

"I wish I had an Oliveira clone but unfortunately we haven't. However, we don't depend on one player. And one player can't make a different without the others. We will find a solution that you will only see on the pitch on the match day."

Oliveira is the most expensive Pro League signing at Dh62 million. He has scored seven goals in seven games and shares the top spot in the league's scoring chart with Al Ain's Asamoah Gyan, the Ghana player on a one-year loan from the Premier League club Sunderland.

Vercauteren will also miss the services of Khalid Sabeel, the defender, who has been suspended for two games following a red card in their last league game, against Al Shabab on December 9.

apassela@thenational.ae

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