Laurentiu Reghecampf insists his players are feeling no pressure to perform as they go in search of a fourth win against high-flying Al Wasl that would maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.
The Clarets sit top of the Arabian Gulf League table with nine points from three games but face arguably their sternest test so far as they travel to Dubai to take on free-scoring Al Wasl – who have notched 14 goals in their first five games in all competitions.
The Cheetahs are unbeaten in that run but sit two points behind Wahda in second after an opening day 2-2 AGL draw at Al Ain.
Despite a positive start, Romanian Reghecampf was keen to point out the season has only just started.
“Nothing is happening at this stage of the season,” he said ahead of the Wasl game.
“We have a lot of games to come. If we want to be at the top we have to play every game very seriously.
“For us there is no pressure. If you want to do anything, for us it’s very simple, we have to play every game like it’s our last game, give everything, play nice football and I hope for a good result. But it’s not pressure. No-one on the team feels pressure.
“We’ve only played three games, we have a lot of games to play. I hope after this game we will be happy. Every game is difficult for us. If we beat Al Wasl we cannot say we are going to win the championship.”
Rodolfo Arruabarrena knows Cheetahs fans are hungry for a first league title in 11 years, and first in the professional era, and the Argentine hopes he can make their dreams come true this season.
“The Al Wasl fans always have great hope for the tournament, they love their team a lot and wish to return to the podium again,” said the former La Albiceleste international.
“I feel good and I hope that I will spend time with the players to achieve their aspirations and dreams this season.
‘We face a strong team in Al Wahda that ranks among the strongest in the league, and we enter the game to achieve victory and provide an outstanding performance that the fans who support us can enjoy.”
Elsewhere, Jose Peseiro is adamant Sharjah are better than their 10th position suggests as they head to struggling Hatta looking for a first win in five games in all competitions this season.
The King have just one point from three AGL games and are looking to halt a two-game losing run against opponents who made Macedonian Gjoko Hadzievski the league’s first managerial casualty last week after the Tornado lost all three opening games to sit rock bottom of the table.
“The results do not reflect the level of the team and we deserve to be in a better position than the current one we are in,” said Portuguese Peseiro whose side showed tremendous spirit to rescue a 3-3 draw in the Arabian Gulf Cup against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai on Saturday having been 2-0 down and seen goalkeeper Ahmed Dida sent off with the score goalless.
“We will change the shape of the team in the coming days for the better.
“The spirit was clear in the previous game and that’s what I always ask my players to show to the team, the club and the fans.”
Defender Ryan McGowan and midfielder Cesar Pinares are back after playing in World Cup qualifiers for Australia and Chile respectively, but their inclusion is not guaranteed.
Henk ten Cate, meanwhile, is happy his players have silenced their early-season critics following a morale-boosting 2-1 win over fierce foes Al Ain in the AG Cup last weekend.
The champions, who have lost their last two in the league, have looked a shadow of the side that stormed to the AGL title last season in the opening few weeks. But Ten Cate feels they have turned a corner.
“I think the team has proved that they can work hard like last year,” said the Dutchman, who takes his side to Al Dhafra tomorrow.
“I said previously the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The chain was really strong against Al Ain, we are one, united. We bounced back from the Al Nasr defeat against a good opponent.
“Al Ain are a very good team but we made it very difficult for them, not giving them space in the centre.
“I think we did very well to win because if you don’t people keep asking about what happened to Al Jazira, what’s happened to the players.
“And now everyone falls silent and we can concentrate on the next game, which is against Al Dhafra and again another difficult opponent. We will play with the same desire to win.”
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club’s long search for a first signing since their shock summer merger is set to be ended outside the transfer window after ex-South Korea Under-23 playmaker Moon Chang-jin began training with them this week.
Moon, 24, has been practising under the watch of coach Cosmin Olaroiu since gaining his release from K League Classic-promoted side Gangwon FC in the wake of October 1’s 1-1 draw against Ulsan Hyundai. The Rio 2016 Olympics quarter-finalist is now poised to ink a deal until June 2018 thanks to Article 37 in the UAE Football Federation’s rulebook, which allows free agents to join within three weeks of the market shutting – October 2 was the closing date.
Prominent Emirati agent Nasser Kashwani was putting the final touches on the attacking midfielder’s registration on Wednesday. The new boy will fulfil the designated Asian-qualified spot in the four-player foreign quota, potentially beginning with Saturday’s hosting of Emirates Club in the Arabian Gulf League.
More than 30 players had previously exited without replacements being procured since May’s surprise amalgamation of Al Shabab, Al Ahli and promoted Dubai CSC.
The slight Moon has struck six times in 30 matches for Gangwon after a €250,000 (Dh954,942) move from Pohang Steelers in December 2016. He had scored 10 goals in 86 run-outs for his boyhood club, following a debut in June 2012.
Olaroiu has been without an Asian player at Ahli since Moon’s compatriot Kwon Kyung-won was sold to ambitious Chinese Super League-outfit Tianjin Quanjian for $11 million last January. In the wake of the merger, Uzbekistan veteran Azizbek Haydarov was released after six years with Shabab – he subsequently joined yo-yo club Ajman.
A €1m (Dh4.4m) offer was made for Jeonnam Dragons midfielder Kim Young-uk last month, but this transaction went incomplete.
Shabab Al Ahli’s current non-Emiratis are prolific Senegal centre forward Makhete Diop, compatriot and €17m (Dh70m) record buy Moussa Sow plus Moldova forward Henrique Luvannor.
Confusion surrounds the status of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club’s complicated chase outside the transfer window for Dynamo Dresden attacking midfielder Aias Aosman.
Aosman, 22, travelled to the UAE to complete a late €1 million (Dh4.3m) move and fill the vacant Asian-qualified spot in their four-player foreign quota ahead of the market’s closure on Monday afternoon. But several intractable complexities saw a deal shelved to secure the merged club’s only summer addition.
A belated discovery in the spring of a birth certificate has ensured the Syria-born, German refugee has yet to complete all citizenship paperwork required to be registered in the desired manner. This caused Cosmin Olaroiu’s men to renege on completing an agreement before the deadline, hope existing a free transfer can be concluded before October 23’s cut off.
— TAG24 Dresden (@TAG24DD) October 3, 2017
The latter scenario was rejected on Tuesday by the 2. Bundesliga-outfit’s sporting director Ralf Minge. “Aias still has a contract with us, it runs until the end of June 2019,” he told TAG24 about the player who has scored 11 times in 72 run-outs for SGD.
Shabab Al Ahli – whose 100-per-cent start to the 2017/18 Arabian Gulf League ended with a controversial 2-1 loss at bitter rivals Al Ain on Friday – require a creative force. They chose to de-register Argentine Tomas De Vincenti on deadline day and replace him with Senegal forward Moussa Sow, a €17 million (Dh70m) record buy who spent last season back on loan at Turkey’s Fenerbahce.
They next host Sharjah on Saturday in Group B of the Arabian Gulf Cup.