Al Jazira coach Eric Gerets has declared he has no interest in delving into the transfer market to solve his side’s defensive issues as he wants to show faith in the current squad.
The Pride of Abu Dhabi have begun the Arabian Gulf League in entertaining fashion, holding on for a 3-2 win at Ajman and conceding a late leveller in a 2-2 draw last time out against Fujairah.
Only top-two Al Wahda and Al Ain have scored more times after two games, while newly-promoted Ittihad Kalba and lowly Ajman are the only teams to have conceded more.
Gerets inherited a side this summer which had the worst defensive record in the top-half of the table. Attempts to plug the gaps at the back have come to nothing, however, with Mohanad Salem staying at Al Ain and early interest in Essa Santo not being followed up prior to his move to Al Ahli.
The transfer window remains open until October 2.
Gerets added: “I do not want to go into the transfer market now to get one or two local players. We tried a month ago, but finally it did not work.
“Now I say we have to do it with the players we have here. I am sure they have much more qualities than maybe they showed in the last game.
“It is for me a sign to have confidence in these guys.”
Thursday’s opponents Emirates Club suffered an even more painful ending than Jazira in the last round, conceding a 93rd-minute winner to Wahda.
Gerets is sure both sides would be motivated by their setbacks.
Al Ain striker Asamoah Gyan has strenuously denied extraordinary speculation that he was involved in the death of rapper and friend Castro as part of a spiritual sacrifice.
Castro and his girlfriend Janet Badu went missing in July while on holiday with Gyan’s family at the Ada resort in Ghana while riding on jet skis.
Castro, real name Theophilus Tagoe, and Ms Badu were initially presumed drowned. However, after the bodies were not found speculation in the Ghanaian press linked Gyan to an alleged “spiritual sacrifice” of Mr Tagoe.
Gyan, who played and scored for Al Ain last night in their 4-0 win over Ajman in the Arabian Gulf League, previously refused to answer questions on the matter but made the decision to hold a press conference to stop the speculation spreading any further.
A statement, read by lawyer Kissi Agyabeng and posted on Gyan’s website, attacked the media for “wild allegations and rumours… ranging from the absurd – of the imputation of criminality to [Gyan] in the sense that he either murdered Castro or had him kidnapped – and ending with the ludicrous – that he sacrificed him spiritually to enhance his career.
“We have been silent while these wild allegations and rumours have been peddled in the media.
"We have been silent not because we are concealing anything or that we do not feel the need to fully state what, from our reckoning, had happened in Ada.
“We have been silent because we did not want to interfere with police investigations.
“In our painful silence, we have been totally dismayed by the fact that the platform was provided for the peddling of these wild and ludicrous allegations and rumours against us.
“Those to whom the platform was provided offered no evidence whatsoever to back their statements. And indeed, the allegation of spiritual sacrifice can by no stretch of the imagination be propped up.
“We are reaching out a friendly hand to journalists and the media. Please accept it. It is time to let the matter rest.”
It was a tale of two Abdulrahman brothers for Al Ain, as Mohamed provided the inspiration in resounding Arabian Gulf League victory against Ajman while a new role continues to beckon for Omar.
Mohamed Abdulrahman, the less heralded of the pair, had a hand in three of the four goals as he shone in the attacking midfield spot previously the sole preserve of his sibling.
The Orange Brigade – for whom Haddaf Abdulla was dismissed at the death – had no answer as he danced through the centre and dissected their defence with a series of incisive balls.
For UAE icon Omar Abdulrahman, there was a repeat of the deep-lying role from last Saturday’s 2-0 win against Al Wasl.
The 23 year old has started slowly this term, a lack of verve and match sharpness brutally exposed during last week’s 3-0 AFC Champions League semi-final, first leg routing by Al Hilal.
The inspiration will return in time for a player who ranks upon Asia’s finest when in peak physical condition.
The ‘regista’ position was his for the second-successive fixture as coach Zlatko Dalic continues to re-engineer ahead of next Tuesday’s decider against the Saudi Arabians.
Mohamed Abdulrahman departed after 72 exceptional minutes. Ever-alert, the 25 year old’s quick-feet and nimble mind was the perfect conduit as the Boss proved unstoppable on the counter-attack.
A helter-skelter start saw the sides share a number of chances. A furious exchange featured Asamoah Gyan in unusually generous mood, shooting straight at Ali Mesmari from close-range.
The miss should have been punished instantly. Ajman charged forward and cut a path straight through the heart of the visitor’s defence, only for Waleed Ahmed Hassan to curl inches wide of the post when an opener seemed certain.
Algerian playmaker Karim Ziani pushed a header just over and forced a fine low save from distance by Khalid Essa as the frailities at the back present in Riyadh momentarily re-appeared despite the utilisation of UAE centre-back Mohanad Salem in favour of Fares Juma.
Missed chances soon came back to haunt the hosts. The Boss raced out of sight with two quick-fire strikes just before the break.
Mohamed Abdulrahman calmly slotted into an open goal on 37 minutes after the exceptional Jires Kembo-Ekoko used his long limbs to break clear and centre.
The same recipe worked wonders soon after, Miroslav Stoch – who later hobbled off with injury that places his participation against Hilal in doubt – taking his time to bury another cut-back from the same player.
A procession was secured shy of the hour-mark. Mohamed Abdulrahman hustled Ajman out of possession in midfield, setting Kembo-Ekoko free to be the provider once more for Gyan’s second goal in two games.
Great players cannot be held down for long, however. Omar Abdulrahman, getting valuable minutes in his legs, sparked the injury-time fourth.
A lobbed pass few are able to fathom sent Gyan through, his low cross being tapped in by returning substitute Mohammed Fawzi.