x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Vercauteren calls for concentration

Despite their 4-1 win over Emirates, the Al Jazira coach says they must know how to maintain their consistency for 90 minutes.

Ricardo Oliveira, second from left, scored Al Jazira's first goal against Emirates on Saturday night.
Ricardo Oliveira, second from left, scored Al Jazira's first goal against Emirates on Saturday night.

ABU DHABI // Al Jazira's players were last night warned by head coach Franky Vercauteren that they must stay focused for the full 90 minutes if they want to keep their place at the top of the Pro League perch.

The champions remain at the summit of the league table after this latest win, a 4-1 victory against Emirates, which was convincing in the end, but the Belgian was far from happy with his team's overall performance.

"It was not a good game, not a good first half and it was only good in the second half when we got a goal right at the end," Vercauteren said. "We only played for 20 minutes [when Jazira scored three first-half goals] and that is not enough. We need to do it for 90 minutes and I am aware of the work that we need to put in.

"We have to play at a high level for the entire match, especially against the bigger teams and in the Asian Champions League.

"We had some individuals tonight who were good to very good, and others who need to improve, and know they must do better."

Ghazi Ghrairi, the Emirates coach, was pleased with his team's spirit against the league leaders, but acknowledged Jazira had the three points wrapped up with three-quarters of the match to go, when the score was 3-1.

"The game was over after 20 or so minutes," he said. "We started well, took the lead, but then couldn't keep up and we also made some bad mistakes.

"We were better in the second half, however, Jazira had already won the match. I thought we were then the equal of them in that period, but it is very difficult to play against such a good team when they are at home."

On paper this appeared a simple task for the champions; on the field it took exactly sixty seconds to disprove that theory, albeit temporarily. Lucas Neill will want to forget this moment as he failed to deal with a high ball, which allowed Akarandut Nicodemus, Emirates' Nigerian striker, to take possession just outside the box.

His emphatic first-time shot fizzed past goalkeeper Khalid Essa and into the net. The lead, however, lasted just six minutes.

A nice passage of play from Jazira, which involved quick and accurate passing inside and outside the box, ended with Ricardo Oliveira powering home a half-volley for the equaliser.

Less than a minute later, Bare, Oliveira's Brazilian strike partner, put the home side in front.

There seemed little danger when he collected the ball on the left hand side of the penalty area when closely marked by Khaled Shamareikh. But he was allowed to turn far too easily and got off a shot, which keeper Ahmed Al Shaji allowed to creep inside his near post.

And then, on 24 minutes, Jazira effectively wrapped up the points when they made it 3-1.

Ibrahim Diaky, the captain, picked out Abdullah Mousa with a superb pass, and the UAE international took a touch and steadied himself before he directed his shot through a crowd of players into the bottom corner.

With the result all-but decided by the interval, the second half was always likely to be a procession.

The final Jazira goal came deep into injury time and it was the result of a dreadful mistake by Shamareikh, the Emirates defender, who, when the last man, played a pass straight into the body of Oliveira.

The former AC Milan forward ran though on goal and then calmly placed the ball past Al Shaji for his seventh goal of the season.

"The one thing I would say is that when we lost the early goal, we did get a positive reaction, and that doesn't always happen," Vercauteren said.

"But we lost possession too many times and we did not get enough movement up front. However, we scored another four goals and that was good to see."

Such is precarious nature of being a Pro League manager, Ghrairi was asked if he feared the sack after a poor start to the season, which has seen his team take three points from six league games.

"Like any coach, I know this is a possibility. Whether I stay or not is up to the club's administrators," he said.

Other results

Al Wasl 2-0 Al Shabab

Richard Porta scored his first goal for Al Wasl to rescue a point for Diego Maradona and Wasl in a Dubai derby match against Al Shabab, but they lost ground to league leaders Al Jazira. The draw means Wasl remain second in the table, but are already five points behind the champions. Porta, the Australian-born Uruguay striker signed from Siena, struck with seven minutes left.

Dubai 1-3 Ajman

Ajman came from a goal behind to record their first victory of the season and keep Dubai rooted to the bottom of the table. Ibrahima Toure scored the goal that put his side 2-1 up in the second half, continuing his fantastic run which has seen him net in all but one of his side’s six games this season. Toure has six goals with only Al Jazira’s Ricardo Oliveira (seven) ahead of him in the ranks.

ncameron@thenational.ae

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