Arabian Gulf League leaders Al Ain face a bigger battle every week against teams who treat their clashes “like a final”, according to boss Zlatko Dalic.
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The Boss come into the 22nd round holding a four-point lead over second-placed Al Jazira.
They travel to Al Nasr tonight, who have dropped to sixth since lifting the Arabian Gulf Cup in January.
Dalic said: “Our incentive should be greater to achieve than our competitors in this game, because our goal is to make the league title.
“I think what makes all the difference is when teams play Al Ain they deal with the game like a final.
“The incentives for Nasr will be great and I think that the game will not be easy. But I have great confidence in all my players to return with a positive outcome.”
The Boss return to domestic action following a disappointing midweek AFC Champions League Group B draw against Pakhtakor.
There was tumult before Tuesday’s stalemate, star striker Asamoah Gyan watching from the stands after declaring with an hour to kick off that the lingering effects of a quadriceps problem meant he would not be able to play.
Dalic declined to reveal whether his 12-goal top scorer would be unleashed against the Blue Wave.
He said: “Certainly Mohammed Abdulrahman will be absent, as well as Ismail Ahmed [through suspension].
"We will study the readiness of the rest of the players for the match against Nasr.
“As you know, since the beginning of the season we face absences and certain conditions. We will choose the appropriate mix to put us in a position to win.”
Nasr were scrapping for Asian qualification for much of the campaign prior to their recent slump.
Boss Ivan Jovanovic insisted they will not “surrender” in the remaining five matches of the season.
He said: “In the last six games, we have dropped points and lost our chance to be close to fourth.
"When we don’t win and only get draws it’s not easy to keep the position that you want, but all these games are in the past and we have to live and learn from our mistakes and continue.
“These results have led us away from AFC Champions League qualification.
"But as a team we won’t surrender, we will fight in the remaining games to take the best position we can.”
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