Bani Yas coach Jorge da Silva has urged his side to beat Al Nasr on Monday night to close the gap on the Arabian Gulf League top four and give themselves a lift ahead of their Asian assignment on Saturday.
Da Silva’s side entertain the Blue Wave in Abu Dhabi looking to bounce back from a derby day defeat against Al Wahda.
With their AFC Champions League second round qualifying play-off against Al Qadsia of Kuwait to come this weekend, Al Samawi had hoped to put pressure on the teams ahead of them with victory in their two rearranged league fixtures.
Losing the first has stalled Bani Yas’ progress somewhat, they were unbeaten in five league games prior to Tuesday night, but they can still leapfrog Wahda and move to within two points of fourth-placed Sharjah with victory.
“This is a very important match, just like every match, but it needs a special focus because we lost against Al Wahda,” Da Silva said. “We need to come back in this match because next week we play in the AFC Champions League and we need to focus on this match to give us momentum.”
The hosts will be without Sebastian Prediger for the game in Al Shamkha, as the Argentine midfielder has failed to shrug off the injury that forced him off at halftime against Wahda.
“We need to get these points to close the gap to the top four,” added Da Silva, whose side start the evening a point ahead of ninth-placed Nasr.
Bani Yas winger Ahmed Dada also urged his team-mates not to lose focus.
He said: “We have two matches in five days this week, it’s not very long but we should focus first of all on this match and after that think about Asia.”
Nasr could hand a second debut to UAE defender Ali Al Ameri in Al Shamkha after the 25-year-old signed from Al Jazira last week.
Al Ameri, who was part of Mahdi Ali’s squad for the London Olympics and the Gulf Cup of Nations, previously spent a six-month loan spell in Dubai at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Meanwhile, Bani Yas have confirmed they made attempts to add a loan signing before their AFC Champions League qualifier.
Chairman Mubarak Awad told Sport360° that talks had taken place with several clubs about the possibility of signing a local player on a temporary basis to help them in the continental competition.
Al Ain coach Quique Sanchez Flores has urged the club’s fans to be patient with new signing Yassine El Ghanassy.
The Belgium international was again used as a substitute as Asamoah Gyan’s late goal sealed the Boss’ passage to the President’s Cup final.
In the final, Al Ain will renew hostilities with Al Ahli, the defending champions.
Prior to Al Ain’s 2-1 win over Al Nasr at Zayed Sports City, Sanchez Flores had talked up El Ghanassy’s potential importance to his side – however, after the game he stressed the 23-year-old would need time to settle in at the Garden City.
“We needed a skilled and quick player like him in the left position and Yassine has high skills and is a fast runner on the field. He just needs time to get used to the team,” the Spaniard said.
And while Ahli are top of the Arabian Gulf League, the President’s Cup offers Al Ain their best chance of silverware this season.
With a league title to fight for and AFC Champions League on the horizon, Ahli No2 Catalin Raducan insisted the team would not be consumed by thoughts of the final.
He said: “We do not look too far into the future, we only focus on our next game.”
Meanwhile, Mohammed Thani Al Romaithi, chairman of the Pro League Committee (PLC) and chairman of the Executive Office, confirmed that the PLC’s revenue has increased to Dh177 million for the 2013/14 season thanks to broadcast and sponsorship deals.
He said: “Our ambition is growing season after season, and as can be seen in the Arabian Gulf League currently, the competition on the field and in the league table is at a very high level and it is difficult to predict who will win the title or be relegated.
"This adds to the value of our league and also entices more fans to take an active interest in matches."
Al Ain boss Quique Sanchez Flores is hoping his side won’t need to rely on dramatics in Thursday night’s semi-final against Al Nasr in Abu Dhabi.
The Garden City club beat the Blue Wave 3-2 earlier in the season but relied on a last-gasp winner from substitute Fares Juma.
“Our coming match in the semifinal of the President’s Cup against Al Nasr will be totally different from our match in the League, which was a bit too dramatic despite us being superior in the match,” said the Spaniard.
“The circumstances around Al Ain now makes every match a hard one and many have ended either with a victory in injury time or with conceding a goal in another very crucial time. But I trust my team’s abilities to pass the test against Al Nasr.
“We will try to play our game on Thursday in the semi-final and there must be no mistakes because such a match demands huge concentration and intensive work to keep the team’s balance on the field.
“I expect the match to be very different than the League encounter, especially as there are changes in the squads. In fact, we should control the game and show our personality in the match”.
With the game being played at a neutral venue, Quique called on the Al Ain fans to turn it into a home tie.
He added: “I want Al Ain fans to trust their team and we will be waiting for them at Zayed Sport City Stadium. They are the real power of the team and they are the most important players in the team.”