x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Top pair are in Schaefer's sights

The Al Ain manager Winfried Schaefer wants his side to be breathing down the necks of joint leaders Al Jazira and Al Ahli when the Pro League takes a break.

Ajman, who beat Al Wahda 2-1 last week, have surprised many by surging to fourth place.
Ajman, who beat Al Wahda 2-1 last week, have surprised many by surging to fourth place.

AL AIN // The Al Ain manager Winfried Schaefer wants his side to be breathing down the necks of joint leaders Al Jazira and Al Ahli when the Pro League takes a break after it was decided to postpone round 11, scheduled for next Tuesday, until February. The nine-time league champions are four points behind the top two going into their game against Al Wasl tonight at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium.

Wasl arrive with their tails up after a 3-0 drubbing last season's title winners Al Shabab, "It is important to win three points from this game so we don't fall too far behind Jazira and Ahli," said Schaefer, who was still praising his team's fighting spirit when they came from two goals down to clinch a 2-2 away result with Ahli. "Wasl's confidence must be obviously high, but we are not worried with whatever plans they have. We intend to play our own game, and I wish we can reproduce the game we played with Ahli. This is the spirit I like to see from my players. They never gave up until the end and I really was pleased with that performance. I wish they play in that same spirit to round off a good first half in the league."

Schaefer plans to stick with his new-look striking combination of the Brazilian Andre Diaz and the lanky Senegalese Andre Senghor. "Senghor and Diaz are playing together only for the second time. They complemented each other very well in the last game and I want to see them continue with the good work," he said. Wasl, who are on 11 points in seventh, will be without Brazilian Alexander Oliveira, who serves a one match ban.

Al Nasr are still looking for their first home win of the season when they host Al Wahda, who travel to Dubai after a humiliating defeat to the promoted Ajman in the first competitive game under new manager Josef Hickersberger. Both teams have gone three games without a win and are level in the league, on 11 points each, occupying fifth and sixth on goal difference. Ajman have a great opportunity to cement their position in the top four when they host Al Khaleej in the clash of the two promoted clubs. Ajman stunned Wahda last week to take their tally to 14 points and they face Khaleej who are in dire straits struggling at the bottom with two wins and a draw.

Abdul Kader's Ajman side have been solid in defence, marshaled by the former UAE international Abdulrahman Ibrahim. They have only conceded just nine goals, and only the top three teams in the competition have conceded fewer. arizvi@thenational.ae