Superstar playmaker Omar Abdulrahman will not be thrust back into action despite Al Ain’s desire to return to winning ways when they host Fujairah, according to coach Zlatko Dalic.
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Abdulrahman, 23, is close to taking the field once again after missing the last three weeks with a hamstring complaint.
Pressure has built up to select him after the Boss went scoreless in their last two games.
They drew their AFC Champions League ope-ner in midweek against Al Shabab Riyadh and lost the first of an Arabian Gulf League double-header at tonight’s opponents 1-0 thanks to old boy Boubacar Sanogo’s strike.
Dalic declared he would only select Abdulrahman when he has received full medical clearance, placing doubt on his involvement at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium ahead of Tuesday’s important continental visit to Iran’s Naft Tehran.
“We must not rush to play him [Abdulrahman] until he reaches the required degree of readiness because we face great challenges in the AFC Champions League and Arabian Gulf League,” the Croatian said.
“The presence of Amoory is important for the team even if they are late for two or three days, it is best to maintain the player.”
Al Ain will definitely be without veteran attacking midfielder Ibrahim Diaky, who is suspended this weekend following an accumulation of yellow cards.
The match against Fujairah (17:35 kick off) will see the Boss fulfil the final game in hand earned during the run to the 2014 ACL semi-finals.
If they avoid successive top-flight losses, they will go first in the standings ahead of long-time leaders Al Jazira.
The absence of goals in their previous fixtures played on Dalic’s mind in his pre-match press conference rather than the allure of top spot.
He said: “We realise that luck abandoned us in the last confrontation between the two teams at their ground. Unfortunately in the last two games we have not succeeded in recording a goal, which we put among the priorities of our attention.
“Certainly, the absence of scoring in two encounters in a row is something strange, because this thing has not happened since I took over the team [last March].
“We are working to strengt-hen the offence during the next stage and realise that Fujairah is a good team.
"They showed the ability to stop our offensive strength at home, also showing proficiency in counter-attacks.”
Meanwhile, Fujairah’s rapid improvement since new coach Ivan Hasek’s arrival in December reached a high point with the triumph against the Boss last time out.
Lebanon striker Hassan Maatouk was buoyed by the run of one defeat in five AGL matches, which has seen the eastern emirate-outfit move eight points clear of the relegation zone.
He said: “All the players are ready and we hope to repeat the scenario from the last game.
“We will fight for the emergence of a distinctive level against a great team like Al Ain. Especially as the game will be played at their ground.”
The Pro League Committee held a technical meeting on Thursday in preparation for the rescheduled Arabian Gulf Super Cup match between Al Ahli and Al Ain, which will take place at 19:20 on Friday 27th March at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Chaired by Suhail Al Areefi, CEO of the Pro League Committee, the meeting was attended by representatives of both clubs – Al Ahli and Al Ain – as well as representatives of the Police, Referees Committee, and the private security firm appointed for stewarding the game.
Highlighting that teamwork and cooperation will be key to a successful event, there were detailed presentations of many technical, security, media, and marketing matters concerning all parties.
It was confirmed that, as per competition law, in the case of a draw after 90 minutes the match will immediately resort to being decided by penalty shoot-out, with no period of extra time to be played.
It was also agreed that Al Ahli will wear their customary red and black kit, whilst Al Ain will also wear their home strip of white with purple detailing.
Al Ahli will be situated on the left side of the stadium, and Al Ain on the right.
One day prior to the Arabian Gulf Super Cup, on Thursday 26th March, both teams will hold their pre-match press conferences at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in the presence of the head coach and one first-team player.
Al Ahli's pre-match press conference is scheduled from 17:00-17:15, with Al Ain's to follow from 17:30-17:45.
Both teams will also conduct their official training sessions on the pitch at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, with Al Ahli's session from 19:00-20:00, and Al Ain's from 20:15-21:15, with each session open to media for the first 15 minutes.
It was also decided that Al Ahli fans will enter the stadium on match day through Gates 10, 11 and 17, and for Al Ain fans their points of entry will be Gates 21, 27 and 28.
Timing is crucial in football. The aftermath of Al Wahda’s shock decision to dispense with coach Jose Peseiro has proven this maxim.
An epic penalty loss to Qatar’s Al Sadd in successor Sami Al Jaber’s debut saw the Clarets fail to reach the AFC Champions League group stage, while a 4-1 Arabian Gulf League thrashing at third-bottom Sharjah followed last weekend.
The whys and wherefores of the choice to bin Peseiro have been well aired already.
This was a man who had taken the club from distant mid-table on arrival in winter 2013 to second last term, a 20-match unbeaten top-flight being registered along the way.
Judging by results alone, the Portuguese should never have been sacked.
But when a fracture appears between a coach and senior management, there can only ever be one winner.
Peseiro’s vetoing of the pursuit of Australia star Tim Cahill was valiant, but seemingly doomed him to his fate.
A change of course by the Clarets was always likely from that point.
In hindsight, their choice to draft in a new boss seems shortsighted at best.
Two damaging losses in a week have seen their continental dreams disappear this term and threaten next season’s.
It is all too easy to now jump to the conclusion that Al Jaber is not cut out for the post, doing a shocking disservice to one of Asian football’s greateast-ever figures.
The 42-year-old possesses gravitas in abundance, plus experience of European football as a player and assistant coach.
An unforgivably short one-season spell in charge of Saudi Arabian giants Al Hilal ended with the sack, despite gaining the 2013-14 Saudi Federation Cup and runners-up spots in the Crown Prince Cup and Saudi Professional League.
Al Jaber is clearly no mug.
Once Wahda made the brutal decision to let Peseiro go, they moved swiftly to secure an ideal replacement.
The concession of two late goals at home to Emirates Club to draw 2-2 on February 8 proved a politically-apt moment.
Their cataclysmic error was in the period of the season they decided to make the switch. Al Sadd are a superb side, ACL quarter-finalist last term.
The Al Nahyan Stadium-outfit needed to be at their optimum to stand any chance of progression.
The fact they came painfully close last week to pulling off the result is to Al Jaber’s immense credit.
Any coach nursing troops drained in body and mind after their midweek disappointment could have suffered the result that followed at Sharjah.
The fit of pique to dispense with Peseiro saw the club sacrifice a continental campaign that could have done so much for a young team that is enjoying rapid development.
The ripples from Peseiro’s exit will long continue to cause disruption.
Ali the only man to lead the UAE
A month was all it took for the UAE Football Association to come to their senses and reward coach Mahdi Ali for his continued brilliance.
The 49-year-old was arguably the coach of the Asian Cup, defeating holders Japan on the way to securing third spot.
Huge plaudits across the continent and beyond were gained by the former international midfielder for allowing a young side to fulfil their destiny.
Make no mistake, there is no better or more worthy man to guide this gifted generation to the 2018 World Cup.
The silence had been deafening about Ali’s future, repeat talk of an extension to a deal which was to expire in July previously coming to nothing.
He deserved huge reward for his efforts and a public show of faith for what he has achieved in developing this group of players from promising youngsters, to
impressing at the London 2012 Olympics, winning the 2013 Gulf Cup and excelling Down Under.
UAE officials insisted the lack of agreement had nothing to do with the upcoming 2016 board elections, that could have seen a manager well into a lengthy contract put upon a regime that didn’t want him.
But who could be better for the Whites job than Ali?
All too often, expensive foreign options are taken by impatient Middle Eastern nations. Ali’s homegrown success has proven a welcome alternative.