Al Jazira crash to defeat against Tractor Sazi in AFC Champions League

Matt Jones 24/02/2016
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Al Jazira boss Henk ten Cate.

Amir Ghalenoei’s men are a distant seventh in the Persian Gulf Pro League but were the better team by some distance, with Henk ten Cate suffering just a second loss in eight games since taking charge in December.

The visitors fell behind inside the first five minutes in Tabriz to Bakhtiar Rahmani’s stylish finish, and they never really recovered. It was 2-0 after 10 minutes, Shoja Khalilzadeh outmuscling Angle Lafita to nod in Soroush Rafiei’s corner.

Jazira’s best chance fell to Kenwyne Jones who blasted over after barging his way in on goal.

Substitute Mehdi Sharifi squeezed in a third in the 54th minute following two blocked attempts, but after that it could have been a cricket score.

It became embarrassing for the visiting team on the hour mark when defender Fares Juma dallied in possession, allowing Rahmani to run through and sweep past Khaseif.

The hosts looked like scoring whenever they ventured forward, with Sharifi ballooning his attempt over in stoppage time.

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Kenwyne Jones excited for debut AFC Champions League match

Matt Jones 24/02/2016
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Kenwyne Jones is on loan with Al Jazira from Cardiff City.

Striker Kenwyne Jones is thrilled about his first foray into the AFC Champions League as Al Jazira travel to Iran to take on Tractor Sazi in their opening Group C game,

Jazira have been placed in a daunting section alongside the Persian Gulf Pro League runners-up, two-time winners Al Hilal from Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor after emerging with a thrilling 5-4 penalty-shootout victory against Al Sadd in the play-offs.

Trinidad and Tobago forward Jones arrived in the UAE in January on loan from Welsh club Cardiff City and is relishing the Pride of Abu Dhabi’s trip to Tabriz, where he insists his side are going for all three points.

“It’s an exciting prospect,” said the 31-year-old when asked if he was looking forward to his first ACL experience.

“Going to Iran is a tough prospect but we’re going to prepare well and go there to win.

“I can’t say (I have any expectations) as it’s my first time but hopefully the team will be on the right end of the result.”

Jazira’s season seemed to be in ruins prior to the arrival new head coach Henk ten Cate, who has jump-started the Abu Dhabi giants’ 2015/16 campaign.

The Dutchman has seen his team win their last four games, while they have lost just once in seven matches since he took the reins.

Another player who has been a feature of the early Ten Cate era at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium is young Emirati midfielder Salem Rashid, who has played in all seven games for the former Ajax boss.

“To play in the Champions League is a dream and I will give my all,” he said.

“It is important to start well as it will give us motivation for the rest of the competition.”

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Sky Blue Fanzone for Man City fans set up ahead of Capital One Cup final

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Joe Hart delivered a message of support to Manchester City fans in Abu Dhabi.

Football fans and UAE Sky Blue members have been invited to Zayed Sports City stadium in Abu Dhabi for a family Fanzone event when Manchester City FC play Liverpool FC in The Capital One Cup final.

The event starts at 8pm this Sunday, February 28, with prize competitions and activities before the game kicks-off at 8.30pm.

Fans can enter from Gate 40 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium with all ages welcome, and food and beverage available throughout the evening.

Ahead of the Cup Final goalkeeper Joe Hart delivered a message to Manchester City supporters in Abu Dhabi and across the UAE.

He said: “We are a club that is growing all the time and it’s a really important we are always competing for trophies and titles each season.

“The players are aware of the growing fanbase from around the world and it’s great to see this support really happening in Abu Dhabi with the game screenings and the City Football Schools.”

“This is something we can all be proud of and we are always thankful to the fans for their support.”

Sky Blue Fanzone events aim to bring local Manchester City fans together for big matches in Abu Dhabi, with UAE supporters witnessing league titles, an FA Cup victory and a League Cup win in recent seasons.

Local fan, Ahmed Saleh, said: “I am a huge Manchester City supporter and the atmosphere is always good in the Fanzones, hopefully we can win the Capital One title”.

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