x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Zenga ‘may get emotional’ when Al Jazira host Al Nasr

The Al Jazira coach will face off with his former club Al Nasr, where he says he has fond memories of, on Thursday night.

ABU DHABI // Walter Zenga is facing an emotional game when he leads Al Jazira against his former club Al Nasr in tonight’s Arabian Gulf League at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

“Nasr was my home before. I keep in my heart all the good memories and I will be grateful and thankful to them all the time for providing me the opportunity to work in the club,” the Italian said.

“I may get emotional in this game because I will be meeting a lot of the old fans from the club. However, when the whistle goes off all that will be a part of the past.

“I am now the coach of Jazira and hope to stay here for a long time. I prepared for this game in the right way because I know Jazira have never beaten Nasr in the past two years.”

Jazira have not won a league match at home this season, losing to Al Wasl 3-2 when they had to play with nine players, and settling for a draw against Ajman at Al Wahda’s Al Nahyan stadium, as their own pitch was being used for the Fifa Under 17 World Cup.

Zenga’s first league game in charge was also played at the same venue, against Dubai, a 2-2 draw.

The other concern for the Jazira coach is that they have conceded six goals in the past two games despite victory over Wahda in the capital’s derby 4-3 last week. They went down 3-1 to Baniyas in the previous game in the League Cup.

“For me it would be very easy if I don’t talk about our problems because after winning a game I can say all is well,” Zenga said.

“I need to be honest about my job. We need to improve our performances with more determination, through discipline and working every day. The standard of Jazira is not to receive six goals in two games.

“The important thing is no one should feel guilty about their mistakes. Only those people who don’t do anything from morning until night will not make any mistakes.

“It is part of our job and part of our life to make mistakes but I don’t want my players to repeat the mistakes. From the mistakes they can learn.”

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Zenga said he will not be decide the line-up until the day of the match.

“It is the wish of every coach to have the full squad available before a game. All the players are in good health with good performance. Then, we start to choose the best XI,” he said.

“You don’t forget we have to play a game every four or five days for the next five weeks. So we need all the players and then it’s my choice to select the best line-up. That’s why I receive a salary.

“Also remember a player who may play for five minutes coming off the bench can also change the game.

“And, lucky for me, Nelson Valdez did this by scoring a late goal to win against Wahda. Not only did he score but also saved one by heading a cross in front of the goalkeeper.”

When asked if his knowledge of the Nasr players would be any advantage, he replied: “I know a majority of them apart, from the three new foreign players, but they also know me. So I don’t know if it is going to work in my favour or their favour.

“Nasr didn’t start well but they are playing better now. They are playing together as a team, they are in good fitness and have a couple of players who can change the game in any situation. They are known to play better against stronger teams.”

apassela@thenational.ae

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