Al Jazira looking to restore pride with President's Cup glory

Park Jong-woo is desperate to show his true worth and help Al Jazira lift the President’s Cup after admitting he has not played to his potential this season.

Denzil Pinto
by Denzil Pinto
28th May 2016

article:28th May 2016

Jong-woo (l) wants to end the season on a high.
Jong-woo (l) wants to end the season on a high.

The South Korea midfielder has had a frustrating first campaign at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, netting just once in 37 appearances since his summer move from Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou R&F.

Having finished a distant seventh in the Arabian Gulf League with Jazira, the 27-year-old can claim his first piece of silverware if they prevail against six-time winners Al Ain in Sunday’s final.

While he’s been satisfied with his own performances, Park is determined to play a big role and see the Pride of Abu Dhabi clinch just their third President’s Cup.

“I came straight from China and haven’t had any rest. I haven’t shown my best yet and it’s not been a very good season for me,” he said. “I hope it (a good performance) comes against Al Ain, but I must work hard.”

Since the AGL season finished on May 8, the Pride of Abu Dhabi have found their self-belief in this competition. They twice came from behind to defeat Sharjah on penalties, before Ali Mabkhout’s hat-trick was enough to beat Ahli 3-2 in the semi-finals.

With AGL runners-up Al Ain also searching for their first major trophy this term, Park remains wary of the Garden City club, having lost twice to their rivals in the league this season.

“They have some very good players and obviously Omar Abdulrahman is a threat while Douglas and Danilo Asprillo are quite formidable,” he said. “We know they are dangerous as a unit.”

Park is still hurting from their dismal league showings that saw Abel Braga replaced in December by Henk ten Cate after three wins in 16 games and the South Korean has urged his team-mates to focus on stopping Zlatko Dalic’s troops.

“No-one expected us to do badly in the league but it’s happened,” he said. “We must forget about it because if we want to win back our pride, we have to win this final.

“The game is a very important for us. This has to be one of the most important games of the season and it’s one that we must win.”

Meanwhile, Park’s team-mate Kenwyne Jones has played down suggestions that Al Jazira will have the advantage after Al Ain’s participation in the AFC Champions League midweek.

The Boss come into this crucial encounter on the back of a 3-1 aggregate win over Zob Ahan to reach the quarters on Wednesday.

But the former Sunderland striker insists their opponents will be fired up as they look to end their season on a high.

“There is no advantage,” said the 31-year-old. “You’ve seen around the world that you think teams have the advantage because they have better players or more money. But football is an unpredictable game and we have to give 100 per cent effort and hope for the best.”



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