Sharjah will not take winless Wahda for granted

Matt Jones 9/10/2016
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Sharjah boss Giorgos Donis.

The Clarets have just two points following two defeats and two draws in Group A and have next to no hope of progress. They were 2-0 up against Emirates Club in their last game before the Falcons scored two goals inside the final five minutes to snatch an unlikely draw.

The King, meanwhile, sit in second, but Donis is expecting a fight from a talented Wahda team.

“We expect a tough match from Al Wahda, they have a good group of players, especially young and foreign players,” said the 46-year-old Greek. “I know they’re far away from climbing into the next stage of the cup, but I expect a very tough match from their side.

“Previous Wahda games will not fool me. I will not deceive myself that the reason they have not achieved a victory so far is down to bad performances.”

As for his own side, he is not setting too many lofty goals. He is just happy to see his team taking shape.

He said: “For me every game is a goal, and we enter every game to fight and give everything we have in the cup and we will continue this way until the end of the group matches.

Wahda’s Mexican coach Aguirre insists that his team have not played badly this season.

“We need a morale-boosting victory,” said the former Mexico and Japan manager. “We need to achieve victory in the next game even though our chances of competing in the future of the tournament is complicated. The team is playing well in most previous games, without a win. I hope that all the players will be fully focused to achieve that this time.”

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Al Wasl boss calls for focus

Matt Jones 9/10/2016
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Wasl have made a fine start to the season.

A 3-1 defeat on opening night in the Arabian Gulf League to Al Jazira is the only blot on an otherwise flying start to life in charge of the Cheetahs for the Argentine, but he is demanding more from his players.

“In the previous matches we had good moments and we made some mistakes as well,” said the ex-Boca Juniors coach.

“We need to correct these mistakes to be able to keep the good results.”

Wasl sit top of the Arabian Gulf Cup Group A following three wins and a draw and welcome Al Dhafra to Zabeel Stadium on Sunday night.

The Western Knights were brushed aside 4-1 in the league encounter at the same venue last month, but Arruabarrena insists this will be a different match against Mohamed Kwid’s visitors.

“Regardless of any opinions we need to keep working and improving,” he added.

“Those who are saying good things about the team today might say not very good things later. What matters is what we are doing on the field. And to reach the final we need to improve our performances.”

The Cheetahs clawed a 2-2 draw in their last AG Cup encounter against Jazira, taking the lead through Caio Canedo before Fabio De Lima equalised after Khalfan Mubarak and Thiago Neves had put the Pride of Abu Dhabi 2-1 ahead.

Dhafra boss Kwid, meanwhile, believes his side are nearly at the same level as Jazira and Wasl.

“The first group of the league is a foggy one and after that there’s no big gap between Al Dhafra and Al Jazira, Sharjah and Al Wasl. We are nearly as good as each other,” he said.

The affable Kwid knows the Western Knights will have to keep De Lima and Caio in check after the deadly Brazilian duo scored three goals between them in the 4-1 league defeat.

“Al Wasl’s key players are well known to me, the team depend on the strong attack of their foreign players such as De Lima, Caio and (Helder) Barbosa,” he added.

“I am asking my players to put great pressure upon them and isolate them in order to achieve a good result.”

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Bani Yas confidence high ahead of Nasr clash

Matt Jones 9/10/2016
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Pablo Repetto.

The Sky Blues are winless after five matches in all competitions but earned a gritty point in a 0-0 draw at Arabian Gulf League champions Al Ahli on Wednesday.

It was their first point in the Arabian Gulf Cup and they still prop up the Group B table, but Repetto hopes the confidence gleaned from that draw can be reflected in the result against Al Nasr Monday.

“We entered the Ahli match to get the full points but with this performance we feel happy and satisfied because we know we have a strong team who can make great results,” said the Uruguayan.

“It was a great performance against Al Ahli and we hope it will be reflected in the Al Nasr match which will give the players motivation to get the three points as now they have confidence.”

Al Nasr counterpart Ivan Jovanovic has led his side to three wins from five games so far this season and they sit fourth in the Group B table with six points.

The Blue Wave, however, were beaten 2-1 last time out by Al Shabab, but know victory will take them joint top of the table for now.

“It’s another important match against a powerful adversary, a Bani Yas team that succeeded in achieving a draw with Al Ahli in the last round, and if we were looking to climb to the next round we must win and get three points,” said Serbian Jovanovic, who is targeting three wins from Nasr’s three remaining games against Bani Yas, Dibba Al Fujairah and Ittihad Kalba.

Midfielder Tariq Ahmed and striker Salem Saleh are away with the UAE national team and Ivanovic insists it is a chance for others to step up.

He said: “We suffer from many absences in different fronts, and when that happens it is difficult to compensate for absences, but at the same time, the absence of key players gives an opportunity to the players on the bench to show their physical and technical ability.”

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