Jazira lock horns with Dubai

Jazira lock horns with Dubai

Al Jazira coach Franky Vercauteren has had to rework his defence and midfield as he plots a victory over minnows Dubai FC.

The double champions host the team from Dubai in a Group A fixture of the Etisalat Cup at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Friday night. And Vercauteren will be without Khalid Sabeel, Abdulla Mousa, Subait Khater, Juma Abdulla and Ahmed Jumaa, who have been called up for the UAE National team.

The UAE National team is preparing for the 2014 Asian Zone World Cup qualifier against heavyweights South Korea on October 11. The Belgian will also lose experienced defender Lucas Neill next week as the Australian heads Down Under to prepare for the World Cup qualifier against Oman.

On the bright side though, Vercauteren will have two of his Olympic players—Salem Ali Al Amri, Ali Mabkhout back for the game.

“Our preparations were pretty okay. It is still about finding a balance between physical and tactical. It is a game we want to win. I’m pleased that our two Olympic players are back. But we have lost six players to the National team. With all these changes, this week we concentrated on reorganising the defence and the midfield. Next week, we will lose Lucas Neill. But it is no excuse. Mousa, Sabeel and Neill are an important part of the team. But like I said, it is no excuse. We still have to go out and win,” Vercauteren said.

Vercauteren, though, was pleased that six of his players are in the National team. “It is difficult to lose six players. But I’m happy though that six of our players are in the National team. It proves that we are doing well,” he said.

With a lot of players away, Vercauteren will have to call upon his bench strength to deliver. And he is pretty happy with what he has seen so far, when the team has faced obstacles. Jazira were down to 10 men against Al Wahda but still won.

“Every day they are learning. Every day I see it in training. The substitutes have done well and in the previous game against Al Wahda too, they played differently. Mentally if they are open to playing for one player more, then it helps the team’s cause,” Vercauteren said.

Vercauteren said that they needed to be wary against weaker teams. “I watched Dubai’s last two games. We saw two different attitudes of them in those two games. In their first match, they were on top of their game. In the second, they probably weren’t in their best form. It is clear what we need to do to counter them. We have to be careful against small or weaker teams. It is sometimes mental. You think it is easier. But for them, to play against a team like Al Jazira, they are more motivated to win,” he said.

Dubai FC defeated Emirates in their first game before going down to Al Ain in the second.

He insisted that they were taking the Etisalat Cup very seriously. “For me, it is something that I want to win. But, if it comes to a stage where we are not in contention, then we have to think differently. As long as it is possible to win, we will,” said Vercauteren.

Kick-off is at 6.25 p.m


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