x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Walter Zenga aims for Al Jazira to carry momentum in Asian Champions League

The Al Jazira coach Walter Zenga is set to field his strongest line-up as the UAE club seek to topple Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab as leaders of Group A.

Walter Zenga wants his Al Jazira side to continue building on the recent positive results they have had in Asian Champions League, even though they have already qualified for the knockout stage. Karim Jaafar / AFP
Walter Zenga wants his Al Jazira side to continue building on the recent positive results they have had in Asian Champions League, even though they have already qualified for the knockout stage. Karim Jaafar / AFP

ABU DHABI // The Al Jazira coach Walter Zenga is set to field his strongest line-up as the Arabian Gulf League club seek to topple Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab as leaders of Group A.

Despite both clubs already securing their passage to the second round of the Asian Champions League – Shabab top the group with 12 points, with Jazira in second place on 10 points – Zenga will look for his side to continue their good form in this year’s continental competition and avoid a last-16 match against Arabian Gulf League rivals Al Ain, who last night drew 1-1 with Al Ittihad to win Group C.

“It is an ACL match, and it is important to win,” said Zenga, whose counterpart Ammar Souayah has already signalled his intentions to rest several first-team regulars.

“What the other team’s plans and strategies are, are not concerns for us. It is important for us to play well, as we have done all through in this competition. We’ll try to win this game.”

Regarding a potential home-and-away knockout fixture against Al Ain, the Italian said: “It doesn’t matter whom we meet and whether we are going to play the first game at home or away. We are only thinking about our next game tomorrow.”

Khaled Sebil, the Jazira defender, sits out for two yellow cards but otherwise Zenga has a full squad at his disposal.

Souayah will rest some of his key players for the domestic Saudi King’s Cup semi-final return leg against Al Ittifaq next week.

“We will try to balance the team between the ACL and the cup game as both are important for us,” the Tunisian said. “This is a good opportunity to provide some of our fringe players a chance to play in the ACL. It doesn’t mean we are not here to win. We lost to Jazira at home and we have something to prove to our fans.”

apassela@thenational.ae

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