Head coach Laurentiu Reghecampf insists the AFC Champions League is still important for Al Wahda but stressed he may have to rotate his squad and “protect their players” so they remain competitive in all competitions this season.
The Clarets host Qatar’s Al Duhail, leaders of their domestic league, on Monday evening with Wahda looking to bounce back from their 5-0 thrashing to Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv Tashkent in their opening match a week ago.
Reghecampf fielded a weakened team with top-scorer Sebastian Tagliabue, defender Rim Chang-woo and attacker Mourad Batna among the players that did not travel for that fixture.
The Romanian confirmed he has a full squad to choose from for Monday’s game, but also stressed he will rest players if they are not 100 per cent fit – no matter the competition.
“Let’s finish this conversation because I don’t like to explain it every time. I told all of you that we take it game by game and it’s not about the league, cup or Asia,” said Reghecampf, whose side sit second in the Arabian Gulf League and are still in the President’s Cup and Arabian Gulf Cup.
“It’s about our team and players. They are the ones who have to play. It’s not easy for them to play every three days. Sometimes we have players who are injured or sick and not 100 per cent fit to play the game. That’s why we have to make the team what we think is best. We cannot force the players to suffer more injury in any competition. We have to protect our players and see our targets.”
His side face a stern test against a free-scoring Al Duhail side who have scored 64 goals in their league so far. They are searching for their second successive victory after brushing aside Zob Ahan 3-1 last week but Tagliabue is convinced they enough firepower to cause them problems.
“The tournament is very difficult and we cannot look at the past now, we only have to look at tomorrow,” said the Argentine. “Every day is a new game. We have had eight months to prepare ourselves. I’m sure by the end of tomorrow we will get the three points.”
The American School of Creative Science lived up to their name as they found the formula for success on the seventh day of the Global Village Football Challenge.
The Dubai-based school won three of their four games in group five of the Under-12 boys category on Saturday – with their draw a thrilling six-goal thriller with fellow table toppers Abu Dhabi Indian School.
A 3-3 result left the team from the capital at the top of the pile thanks to a healthier goal difference.
The night’s action was a great mix of school and academy talent from all over the UAE with the boys from ADIS making the trip down to Dubai for the matches.
And the traveling did not affect them at all as they opened proceedings by thumping Gulf Heroes Academy 6-0. Star of the show was frontman Muhaimin Ameen with four goals.
Even better was to come against Deira Private School as they sauntered to a 7-0 win, before the game of the evening pitted them against ASCS from Al Barsha.
They could not be separated, with ADIS going on to record another 6-0 win, against Zabeelers Football Academy B to round off a good night – seeing them lead the way at the top of the group with a +19 goal difference, two ahead of ASCS, with both teams on 10 points.
ASCS beat Gulf Heroes Academy 7-1, Zabeelers Football Academy B 5-2 and Deira Private School 5-0 in their other three outings.
The two week tournament will continue its group stages until Wednesday, February 21. After this the knockout finals will start the following day with the finals on Saturday, February 24.
2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman’s curious season has continued after a “lack of physical readiness” saw him left off Al Ain’s trip to begin their Group D-campaign in the 2018 AFC Champions League at Riyadh giants Al Hilal on Tuesday.
Abdulrahman, 26, has only appeared in 10 of the Boss’ 26 matches in all competitions this term through a combination of injury and a controversial domestic ban incurred for infractions on UAE duty at the Gulf Cup. His performance levels were also criticised by coach Zoran Mamic during his only club run-out this year, a 2-0 continental play-off triumph against Bahrain’s Malkiya on January 30.
These factors combined to see him miss Monday morning’s flight to the Saudi capital, which is the city of his birth. Al Ain were quick to offer an official explanation.
The 2002/03 winners tweeted: “Al Ain is missing the captain of the team, Omar Abdulrahman, because of a lack of physical readiness required following his failure to participate in the last two matches because of suspension.
“According to the vision of coach Zoran Mamic, he preferred to maintain the policy of letting one of the stars of the team recover.”
Al Ain were soundly beaten 3-0 on aggregate by Hilal in the late summer’s 2017 ACL quarter-finals.