Zoran Mamic bemoans lack of preparation with international players for AGL clash

Denzil Pinto 14/09/2018
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Zoran Mamic is not happy.

Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic has questioned the scheduling of this weekend’s Arabian Gulf League clash with Al Dhafra after 11 of his players only returned from international duty on Thursday.

The league and President’s Cup winners welcome Al Dhrafa to the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday with The Boss aiming to make it two wins out of two in the AGL.

But Mamic says he is not happy to have been given little time to work with his full squad for an “important” fixture.

“I am not happy to be preparing for a match the day after tomorrow where some of the international players only featured for 10 minutes and none some at all during the friendly games,” bemoaned the Croatian.

“I have not met all the players who went away on international duty but my job is to make them ready for our next game.”

Meanwhile, Al Jazira head coach Marcel Keizer has demanded an improvement from his players when they host Fujairah.

The Pride of Abu Dhabi were held to a 1-1 draw by Emirates Club in the Arabian Gulf Cup on Monday but Keizer wants a much better performance if they want to maintain their perfect start to the league.

“I am not satisfied about our performance in the last match against Emirates in the Arabian Gulf Cup, and I was disappointed because I believed we could win that game,” said the former Ajax head coach.

“We prepared very well and we started the game with our best 11, but things didn’t go well and we ended up with one point only. Now we demand from ourselves a better performance in the next match against Fujairah, and the three points from this match, because we want to get back on the right track as soon as we can.”

In the other game of the day, Shabab Al Ahli travel to Ajman with the visitors aiming to secure their first league win of the season after they were beaten 5-4 by Jazira in the opening round.

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Al Nasr coach Ivan Jovanovic says it's too early to judge his team ahead of Al Ain clash

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Yohan Cabaye (left) arrived at Al Nasr in the summer

Al Nasr coach Ivan Jovanovic has urged the club’s supporters to be patient if they want to watch attractive football ahead of their Arabian Gulf Cup clash with Al Ain on Monday.

The Blue Wave were highly productive during the summer transfer window, bringing in seven players including former Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle United star Yohan Cabaye on a free transfer from Premier League side Crystal Palace. Despite the new faces, Al Nasr got their Arabian Gulf League campaign off to a losing start when they suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to Ajman.

Jovanovic’s charges bounced back in the AG Cup though with a 1-0 win over Emirates Club last week. But ahead of a visit to the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, where they take on last season’s domestic league and cup winners Al Ain, the Serb stressed it will take time for his new arrivals to blend as a team.

“Our focus now is entirely on bringing the new players together and seeking to provide enjoyable football that will delight the fans,” said the 56-year-old.

“The first matches of the tournament there are many factors that affect their harmony and the most important is the high temperatures that they are playing in.”

Jovanovic is wary of the threat posed by the Boss and knows his players cannot afford to make the same mistakes they did when they played Ajman two weeks ago.

“We have to be physically good in order to win the game. We have to focus intensively for the full 90 minutes and try and create many goal scoring opportunities. That was something we suffered when we played Ajman,” he added.

“I trust my players and am confident they will give their best.”

For Al Ain, they thrashed Sharjah 4-1 in the first round and while head coach Zoran Mamic admits Nasr will pose a strong challenge, he hopes there is strong support to rally them home.

“Al Ain will enter an important challenge on its first appearance at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium this season and I hope there will be a massive crowd to enhance the ambitions of the players,” said the Croatian, who distanced himself from the UAE national team job on Saturday.

“Last season we achieved a historic double and we deserve strong support because the fans are the most important factor.”

In other games on Monday, Al Jazira visit Emirates with the Pride of Abu Dhabi looking to build on their big 5-2 victory over Fujairah in the opening round. The Wolves, who won promotion last season, welcome Al Dhafra, who will be making their first appearance in the competition this term.

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Al Ain look to plum FIFA Club World Cup clash with Real Madrid

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Real Madrid claimed the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi last December.

The path to winning the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup has been set following the official draw, which took place at the home of FIFA in Zurich on Tuesday.

Taking place this year from December 12-22, the Club World Cup will bring together the six continental club champions and the UAE’s Arabian Gulf League winners Al Ain to compete for one of club football’s top international prizes.

Following the draw, overseen by head of FIFA tournaments Jaime Yarza with the assistance of Argentina legend Esteban Cambiasso, the route to becoming this year’s FIFA Club World Cup champions was confirmed for the seven teams taking part.

The Boss will play for the chance to enter the competition proper when they face New Zealand’s Team Wellington FC – both of whom will make their FIFA Club World Cup debuts – in the tournament’s opening qualifying match at their own Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on December 12, with the second-round matches taking place on December 15.

European juggernauts Real Madrid – who lifted the trophy in Abu Dhabi last year – will enter the competition at the semi-final stage and play the winners of the match between the champions of Asia (set to be confirmed in November) and Mexico’s CD Guadalajara at Zayed Sports City Stadium on December 19.

Esteban Cambiasso, who won the Club World Cup with Inter in the UAE in 2010, draws out Real Madrid.

Esteban Cambiasso, who won the Club World Cup with Inter in the UAE in 2010, draws out Real Madrid.

The CONMEBOL representatives (winners of the 2018 Copa Libertadores in November) will play the winners of the match between the African club champions and the victors of the Al Ain/Team Wellington clash.

The Club World Cup final will take place at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on December 22.

The full match schedule will be completed in November after the final three continental champions from the AFC, CAF and CONMEBOL have been confirmed.

Cambiasso, a FIFA Club World Cup winner in the UAE with Inter Milan in 2010, said: “Playing in the FIFA Club World Cup is a fantastic experience: to see fans from different continents coming together to support their teams after a successful season creates a thrilling atmosphere.”

Fatma Samoura, FIFA secretary general added: “There is something extraordinarily gratifying about gathering the reigning champions from each confederation – and their tales of hard work to achieve continental success.

“FIFA is committed to fostering club football and its overwhelming global presence, and there is no better platform for that than the FIFA Club World Cup.”

Al Jazira famously took the lead against Real Madrid in last year's Club World Cup semi-final before a late Gareth Bale strike earned Los Blancos a 2-1 win.

Al Jazira famously took the lead against Real Madrid in last year’s Club World Cup semi-final before a late Gareth Bale strike earned Los Blancos a 2-1 win.

HE major general Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi, chairman of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 Local Organising Committee (LOC), added: “We are excited to be hosting the world’s premier club tournament once again. The FIFA Club World Cup is the pinnacle of global professional club football, with the best teams from six continents and the region coming to Al Ain and Abu Dhabi to compete for the title of FIFA Club World Cup champions.

“We are privileged to be hosting some of the best football talent from across the globe. Fans will no doubt be excited to see their heroes from Real Madrid, Guadalajara, Al Ain and Team Wellington. Now we wait, with much anticipation, to find out which other clubs will be joining us in December.”

Tickets for the tournament are now available. For further information about how to apply for tickets and the tournament itself, visit https://www.fifa.com/clubworldcup/organisation/ticketing/.

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