Laurentiu Reghecampf insists his players are feeling no pressure to perform as they go in search of a fourth win against high-flying Al Wasl that would maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.
The Clarets sit top of the Arabian Gulf League table with nine points from three games but face arguably their sternest test so far as they travel to Dubai to take on free-scoring Al Wasl – who have notched 14 goals in their first five games in all competitions.
The Cheetahs are unbeaten in that run but sit two points behind Wahda in second after an opening day 2-2 AGL draw at Al Ain.
Despite a positive start, Romanian Reghecampf was keen to point out the season has only just started.
“Nothing is happening at this stage of the season,” he said ahead of the Wasl game.
“We have a lot of games to come. If we want to be at the top we have to play every game very seriously.
“For us there is no pressure. If you want to do anything, for us it’s very simple, we have to play every game like it’s our last game, give everything, play nice football and I hope for a good result. But it’s not pressure. No-one on the team feels pressure.
“We’ve only played three games, we have a lot of games to play. I hope after this game we will be happy. Every game is difficult for us. If we beat Al Wasl we cannot say we are going to win the championship.”
Rodolfo Arruabarrena knows Cheetahs fans are hungry for a first league title in 11 years, and first in the professional era, and the Argentine hopes he can make their dreams come true this season.
“The Al Wasl fans always have great hope for the tournament, they love their team a lot and wish to return to the podium again,” said the former La Albiceleste international.
“I feel good and I hope that I will spend time with the players to achieve their aspirations and dreams this season.
‘We face a strong team in Al Wahda that ranks among the strongest in the league, and we enter the game to achieve victory and provide an outstanding performance that the fans who support us can enjoy.”
Elsewhere, Jose Peseiro is adamant Sharjah are better than their 10th position suggests as they head to struggling Hatta looking for a first win in five games in all competitions this season.
The King have just one point from three AGL games and are looking to halt a two-game losing run against opponents who made Macedonian Gjoko Hadzievski the league’s first managerial casualty last week after the Tornado lost all three opening games to sit rock bottom of the table.
“The results do not reflect the level of the team and we deserve to be in a better position than the current one we are in,” said Portuguese Peseiro whose side showed tremendous spirit to rescue a 3-3 draw in the Arabian Gulf Cup against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai on Saturday having been 2-0 down and seen goalkeeper Ahmed Dida sent off with the score goalless.
“We will change the shape of the team in the coming days for the better.
“The spirit was clear in the previous game and that’s what I always ask my players to show to the team, the club and the fans.”
Defender Ryan McGowan and midfielder Cesar Pinares are back after playing in World Cup qualifiers for Australia and Chile respectively, but their inclusion is not guaranteed.
Henk ten Cate, meanwhile, is happy his players have silenced their early-season critics following a morale-boosting 2-1 win over fierce foes Al Ain in the AG Cup last weekend.
The champions, who have lost their last two in the league, have looked a shadow of the side that stormed to the AGL title last season in the opening few weeks. But Ten Cate feels they have turned a corner.
“I think the team has proved that they can work hard like last year,” said the Dutchman, who takes his side to Al Dhafra tomorrow.
“I said previously the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The chain was really strong against Al Ain, we are one, united. We bounced back from the Al Nasr defeat against a good opponent.
“Al Ain are a very good team but we made it very difficult for them, not giving them space in the centre.
“I think we did very well to win because if you don’t people keep asking about what happened to Al Jazira, what’s happened to the players.
“And now everyone falls silent and we can concentrate on the next game, which is against Al Dhafra and again another difficult opponent. We will play with the same desire to win.”
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