Zoran Mamic insists 'heart' is with Al Ain to provide boost for Al Rayyan test in ACL

Matt Monaghan 20:56 19/02/2018
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Al Ain boss Zoran Mamic (l0 before the 2018 AFC Champions League tie with Al Rayyan (Al Ain).

Coach Zoran Mamic declared his “heart is with Al Ain” when he stirringly moved to dismiss reports of a switch back to Saudi Arabia ahead of Tuesday’s 2018 AFC Champions League-clash with Michael Laudrup’s Al Rayyan.

Mamic, 46, is experiencing a bumper first full season since being controversially poached from Riyadh giants Al Nassr in February 2017.

The ex-Croatia international’s influence leading the Boss to the top of the 2017/18 Arabian Gulf League’s standings has attracted covetous eyes from across the border, a dangerous situation with less than six months remaining on his contract.

But he delivered a morale boost on Monday, seemingly committing his long-term future to the club.

“My heart is with Al Ain and I plan to be part of this great club in the next stage,” said Mamic, whose side gained a creditable goalless draw at 2017 runners-up Al Hilal when Group D got under way last week.

“All my focus is on achieving my goals with Al Ain and I have a continuing contract with this club.”

2016 AFC Player Omar Abdulrahman missed the trip to Hilal as he lacked match sharpness, but played in Friday’s 5-1 humiliation at Al Wahda in the Arabian Gulf Cup’s quarter-finals.

Rayyan sit a distant third in the QNB Stars League.

An opening 2-2 draw with Iran’s Esteghlal saw experienced Qatar schemer Rodrigo Tabata score and be sent off.

“The fact is Rayyan has a large squad,” said Mamic.

“The absence of one player won’t affect the team.”

Rayyan lost 5-1 at Wahda in last year’s group stages.

20-afc pitch

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