Ivan Leko promises thrills when Al Ain meet Al Wasl in our Arabian Gulf League preview

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Ivan Leko (Al Ain).

Al Ain boss Ivan Leko has vowed he will hold nothing back during Thursday’s tantalising Arabian Gulf League meeting with Al Wasl.

Thrills abounded in last week’s opening top-flight weekend when the Boss required a 96th-minute winner to defeat lowly Ittihad Kalba 3-2. It was a different story for Wasl, who played out a goalless Bur Dubai derby with Al Nasr.

“Al Wasl has a number of highly skilled players and a good line of defence,” said ex-Croatia midfielder Leko, who joined in June from Club Brugge. “Confronting such clubs always motivates players to show their best.

“I always prefer the open style of play in football games, because it is the most exciting for fans, commentators, critics and media. Our goal is always to win.”

Injuries mean ex-Al Jazira midfielder Mohamed Jamal and €5.3 million former Al Wasl striker Caio Canedo will, again, be unavailable for the Boss.

Meanwhile, new striker Ricardo Gomes has warned Kalba he is determined to “make history” at champions Sharjah.

Gomes, 27, has four goals in five appearances since a €3m summer move from Partizan Belgrade. The Tigers – who are on a 14-match AGL winless run – are next in the Cape Verde international’s sights.

He said: “Goals give motivation and confidence no matter the opponent. I am here to make history and I want to score many goals.”

Friday’s highlights from round two include an Abu Dhabi derby between Al Wahda and Jazira.

The hosts must rebound from a pitiful 1-0 defeat at Fujairah, while the Pride of Abu Dhabi should hand a first top-flight start to returned UAE superstar Omar Abdulrahman.

Pointless promoted sides Khor Fakkan and Hatta meet on the same night.

ROUND TWO FIXTURES

Thursday

18:30 Ittihad Kalba v Sharjah

18:30 Al Dhafra v Bani Yas

21:15 Ajman v Al Nasr

21:15 Al Wasl v Al Ain

Friday

18:30 Shabab Al Ahli v Fujairah

18:30 Khor Fakkan v Hatta

21:15 Al Wahda v Al Jazira

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