Rock-bottom Al Ain out to salvage their 2016 ACL hopes against Al Ahli Jeddah

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Make or break: Al Ain manager Zlatko Dalic faces a crunch match.

Boss Zlatko Dalic is convinced Al Ain will rise to the challenge presented by giants Al Ahli Jeddah tonight and not crack under the pressure of salvaging their AFC Champions League-campaign.

The 2014 semi-finalists lost both opening matches against Qatar’s El Jaish to sit bottom of Group D.

This means a positive result is a must against fearsome opponents who sit top of the Saudi Professional League and have rebounded in style after they surrendered a 51-match unbeaten run in their domestic competition last month.

“Losing the first two games in the AFC Champions League was unexpected for everyone, so there is no room for any other errors during the next phase,” said Dalic.

“Personally, I expect the competition to be very strong against Al Ahli Jeddah who are the leaders of the Saudi Professional League.

“In the last two games of the Arabian Gulf League (wins against Al Jazira and Bani Yas), we succeeded in recording seven goals.

“I think that the team has regained confidence.

“However, we are required to focus more on the defensive aspects and work to avoid individual mistakes.

“I respect Al Ahli, but my confidence will still be high about our aspirations and my players.

“We are required to win and show the best we have in front of the Saudi league leaders.”

The task for the Boss is daunting after they recorded their worst-ever start to an ACL campaign.

The visitors to Hazza bin Zayed Stadium have not lost an ACL game in the UAE since they were felled by Al Wahda in 2008, while in Omar Al Somah they possess one of the most imposing strikers in the Middle East.

The 26-year-old’s impressive 15-goal return this term has propelled his club to top spot in Saudi Arabia.

He will be expected to prey on the nerves of the Arabian Gulf League champions and gain a result which will see former Tottenham Hotspur boss Christian Gross’ men climb up from third into the qualification spots.

“We came to win in Al Ain and the team is in the highest degree of readiness to face them,” said Syria international Al Somah.

“We have the desire to earn a big win and determination to achieve our goal, with all due respect to our competitor’s strong team.

“We are well aware that our task in front of us will not be easy, especially in their country.

“We will deal with confrontation like the rest of the other games and we will work to win.

“We expect a strong result and to get the points, as Al Ahli can beat any competitor.”

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