x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Time to deliver for Al Ain and Quique Sanchez Flores

The UAE champions, struggling for results and confidence, travel to Al Nasr knowing they need victory to prevent their league campaign becoming a write-off.

Al Ain coach Quique Sanchez Flores is determined to put the team's woes so far this season behind them. Satish Kumar / The National
Al Ain coach Quique Sanchez Flores is determined to put the team's woes so far this season behind them. Satish Kumar / The National

Quique Sanchez Flores says he has focused on restoring his players’ belief as Al Ain look to get their stuttering season back on track with victory at Al Nasr.

Al Ain, title winners for the past two seasons, have struggled throughout the 2013/14 campaign, and went into Round 19 of the Arabian Gulf League fixtures sixth in the standings, 15 points off leaders Al Ahli.

In fact, Al Ain have recorded a solitary victory in their past five league encounters, and last time out suffered a demoralising home defeat to Al Wahda. So they travel to Al Maktoum Stadium knowing only a win will do, especially as Nasr began the week level on points with Al Ain, albeit one place below in the table.

“Our preparations have been good,” Sanchez Flores said.

“After the defeat to Al Wahda, we worked on enhancing the self-confidence and the morale of the players so we could forget about the match and start the rebalancing process.

“We’ve turned the page since the previous match and now concentrate only on our upcoming match, which we know will be tough.

“But we’re determined to win and to change the image of the previous match.”

Al Ain’s ills can be traced back to an uncertain summer, when the UAE champions lost Cosmin Olaroiu, the architect of their past two title triumphs, to rivals Ahli.

The club board replaced him with Jorge Fossati, although the Uruguayan was dismissed one day before the season began.

Sanchez Flores was not installed until late-September, though, and Al Ain have been playing catch-up ever since.

“I have great trust in the players,” the Spanish coach said. “During the previous period we worked on morale to consign to memory the conditions of the beginning of this season.

“We’re working to get our balance again and we’ll also double our efforts to hit good results in all coming matches.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

*

*

Goalkeeper tries rallying Al Wasl

*

Rashid Ali, the Al Wasl goalkeeper, has appealed to his teammates to forget past results and focus on backing their coach, Hector Cuper, when they travel to the Western Region of Abu Dhabi for a meeting with Al Dhafra.

Wasl are 10th in the table, nearer to the relegation zone than the top.

“As players, we must rally around our coach to fully implement his ideas and strategies to return with a good result,” Ali said. “We are facing a major crisis at the club because of the poor results. It has never been as bad as the present period for us.

“We need to get over this poor run of results and I believe against Dhafra will be the best chance to change it.”

Saturday night’s other game sees relegation-threatened Al Shaab home to Emirates.

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE