Juan Carlos Garrido still has 'trust' in Al Ain turnaround for Arabian Gulf League

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(Al Ain).

Embattled Al Ain supremo Juan Carlos Garrido still has “trust” the floundering Arabian Gulf League holders can enjoy a strong end to the season.

A painful winless streak for the UAE’s most-decorated club, in all competitions, stretched to six with the weekend’s 2-0 defeat at promoted Bani Yas. This parlous run follows a serious talent drain and internal disciplinary issues.

Ex-Villarreal boss Garrido, 50, must now use all his experience to ensure his fourth-placed employers finish within the top three and qualify for the 2020 AFC Champions League, continuing with Wednesday’s trip to lowly Ittihad Kalba.

He said: “I still insist on the importance of winning to improve our position in the league table and to qualify for the AFC Champions League next season. We have to trust our ability to achieve our goal.

“Our next encounter with Ittihad Kalba is very important and my message to the players of Al Ain is clear and focused.”

Kalba are fourth from bottom, but safe from relegation.

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AGL Picks of the Week: Ronaldo Mendes and timeless Sebastian Tagliabue shine

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(Twitter/@AlWahdaFCC).

Round 22 of the 2018/19 Arabian Gulf League delivered several stellar displays, at both ends of the table.

Unbeaten leaders Sharjah edged towards a first title since 1995/96 with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Ittihad Kalba, while the bottom two of Fujairah and Dibba Al Fujairah remain in real danger.

Here are Sport360’°s top picks and a talking point:

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Ronaldo Mendes (Al Wasl)

Both player and club needed this.

Mendes was judged surplus to requirements by the previous Wasl regime, spending the first half of the campaign on loan at Fujairah.

The Brazilian playmaker’s one goal and two assists in the 3-1 win versus Al Jazira was, easily, the best since his return to Zabeel Stadium.

(Twitter/@AlWaslSC).

(Twitter/@AlWaslSC).

GOAL OF THE WEEK

Michael Ortega (Bani Yas)

A special goal in a special win for promoted Bani Yas against opponents who are, technically, still Arabian Gulf League holders.

The Colombian midfielder deftly took down a pass, spun 180 degrees, knocked the ball up and athletically summoned a perfect bicycle kick. Some way to start the scoring in a 2-0 victory versus Al Ain.

(Twitter/@BaniyasSC).

(Twitter/@BaniyasSC).

COACH OF THE WEEK

Ayman El Ramady (Ajman)

The Orange Brigade must praise the day they gave their Egyptian supremo a shot at the permanent job.

2016/17’s successful promotion has been followed by two seasons of stability in the top flight. Remarkable for this yo-yo club.

The 3-0 triumph versus Dibba Al Fujairah made life comfortable.

(Twitter/@AjmanClub).

(Twitter/@AjmanClub).

TALKING POINT

Tribute to timeless ‘Tigali’

Timeless Al Wahda hitman Sebastian Tagliabue’s brace in the 5-0 beating of troubled Fujairah moved him top of 2018/19’s scoring chart, with 20 from 22 matches.

On the all-time list, the Argentine is now an incredible fourth after he notched one more than the iconic Adnan Al Talyani’s 129.

At 34-years old, there aren’t many campaigns left for this warrior.

Could he yet surpass Fahad Khamees’ leading 166 strikes? We’ve learned never to discount ‘Tigali’.

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History set to be made in President's Cup final between Al Dhafra and Shabab Al Ahli

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(Twitter/@Shabab_AlAhliFC).

Boss Rodolfo Arruabarrena is taking nothing granted ahead of Monday’s President’s Cup final in which his Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club are hot favourites versus Al Dhafra.

The star-studded Dubai outfit are second in the Arabian Gulf League, six places and 16 points in front of opponents at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium who have never lifted a major trophy.

“The stakes are equal before the start of the game,” said ex-Argentina left-back Arruabarrena, who is aiming to lift his club’s first trophy since May 2017’s amalgamation. “It is 50 per cent for each team, in such confrontations there is no place for statistics and previous meetings.

“The game is ninety minutes and who exerts a greater effort will be worthy of the title and deserves the Cup.

Dhafra have blossomed since the summer appointment of Serbia’s Vuk Rasovic. He led Saudi Arabian outsiders Al Faisaly to defeat in last term’s King’s Cup showpiece – and will now be looking to go one better.

“This game is the most important this season,” said goalkeeper Khaled Al Senani. “All players have agreed to provide the best for the title and to make history.”

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