Al Jazira face Al Ain test

As Paulo Bonamigo lives to fight another day, it couldn’t get any more tougher than this. Battling to save his managerial career at Al Jazira, Bonamigo and his troops square off against 10-time and defending champions Al Ain in what he described as the ‘Clasico.’

By James Jose

Published: Tue 30 Oct 2012, 12:12 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:11 PM

Al Jazira welcome Cosmin Olariou’s men at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in a Capital Derby of the Etisalat UAE Pro-League late on Monday night. And a defeat would certainly cut short Bonamigo’s stay at Al Jazira.

Jazira players undergo a training session in preparation for their Etisalat Pro-League match against Al Ain. — Supplied photo

Al Jazira began with a heart break, losing the Super Cup to Al Ain on penalties. The loss to Al Nasr in their League opener, defeat to Al Wasl in the Etisalat Cup and the latest being a loss to Al Dhafrah in the League, has raised question marks on Bonamigo.

And Bonamigo, who made Al Shabab a killer outfit before changing ranks to join Al Jazira, faces his toughest test yet.

“It is the biggest derby. It is a Clasico between two big clubs in the UAE. There is everything in it to be a great game. Both teams are looking forward to win. After our loss against Al Dhafrah, three points against Al Ain is a priority. We must play high-level football because the game itself asks for a high-level performance,” Bonamigo said, ahead of the Derby.

Bonamigo said that the Super Cup loss had affected the players and that seems to be showing. “One of the main reasons is that since the beginning, we focussed a lot on the Super Cup. The way we lost, we felt that. It affected the players. We had high expectations. We played a very good game in the Super Cup. In the 90 minutes, we had our chances. It affected our players and Al Ain profited from the result,” he said.

To that end, he said that they were focussing on mental preparation, going into the game against Al Ain.

“We are looking at mental preparation. With this kind of game and the situation we are in, mental preparation is important for the team. We are looking for the best strategy. In such big matches, small details are a priority. Small details can win or lose games. It happened in our match against Al Dhafrah. It was because of small details that we lost the game. It is a Clasico. This match will be decided by small details,” said Bonamigo.

The Brazilian backed his leaky defence and said they have some quality players in their ranks. The Al Jazira defence will be tested by the marauding Asamoah Gyan, Omar Abdulrahman and Jires Kembo Ekoko.

“Our defenders worked hard against Al Dhafrah. They were the best. Coming to the game against Al Ain, it is about two great teams who have a lot of quality players. Like we have to take care against their quality players, they also need to be wary of our quality players. There should be 100 percent concentration in marking them. We have to do that for not just the 90 minutes but more than that because we can expect stoppage time,” he said.

He said that they key was to find the right balance when it came to strategy.

“We have two or three different kinds of strategies for each game. It depends on opponents. Sometimes it is marking, sometimes it is being more offensive. But we are always looking for the right balance,” said Bonamigo.

Bonamigo said that Matias Delgado could play longer after returning from injury in the game against Al Dhafrah. The Argentine playmaker had missed the Etisalat Cup fixture against Al Wasl. “There is a possibility that he (Delgado) might start. In the previous game, he played for 30 minutes. We expect him to play longer than that. He is an important player and we are counting on him,” he said.

Al Jazira will be without substitute Ahmed Mubarak, also known as ‘Dada,’ because of an injury picked up during the game against Al Dhafrah. Mubarak will be out of action for two weeks.

Bonamigo brushed aside notions that there was additional pressure on him. “It doesn’t change anything for us. It is the same pressure for us like any other game,” Bonamigo said.

Meanwhile, Al Ain have been in top form after that blip in their opening League game, where they were walloped by Al Ahli.

Kick-off is at 9 p.m.

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