Injury-struck Al Ain meet Emirates

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Injury-struck Al Ain meet Emirates

Although the League fixtures list has been kind to Al Ain because of their AFC Champions League commitments, they have already lost four players due to injuries and the other two being doubtful starters.

By James Jose (senior Reporter)

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Published: Wed 22 Oct 2014, 12:35 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:31 PM

Dalic will have to make do with a patched-up starting 11. — KT file

Dalic will have to make do with a patched-up starting 11. KT file

Al Ain: Al Ain will be hoping to take maximum points in the second of their home double-header and stay in touch with the lead pack but injury woes couldn’t have come at the worst possible time.

‘The Boss’ were earlier hampered by the absence of a number of players because of the international break and now have been left to watch in agony as some of their key players enrol into the casualty list. It means coach Zlatko Dalic will have to make do with a patched-up starting 11 when his side entertain Emirates for their second home game in six days at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain on Wednesday night.

Even though the League fixtures list has been a bit kind to Al Ain because of their AFC Champions League commitments, the hectic schedule has taken its toll. Al Ain have played two games less but have already lost four players due to injuries and the other two being doubtful starters.

Star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman has been plagued by a chronic knee injury and flew to Spain for treatment. He returned to the UAE on Monday. His brother Khaled too travelled with him to nurse a fractured leg. Hamad Raqea took was on the trip to treat a cruciate ligament. Ace striker Asamoah Gyan injured his knee against Al Dhafrah.

Nevertheless, Dalic put on a brave face as side looks for a fourth win in five games.

“I know that having Omar Abdulrahman and Asamoah Gyan out injured raises some concerns, but Al Ain has a strong squad of over 20 players and I have full faith in all positions,” Dalic said.

The Croatian is aware it won’t be an easy outing against an Emirates side which boasts of Luiz Henrique, Rodrigo Souza and German Herrera. Emirates are seventh in the standings with eight points from six games, with two wins, two draws and two losses. “Emirates have good attacking players like Henrique, Souza and Herrera. So, it will not be an easy encounter. But I have great confidence in my team that we can do the job, especially at our home ground and in front of our fans,” he said. Dalic also reiterated the positives of playing at home. “I know Emirates will be coming to us and looking to get the best result possible at our stadium. But with all due respect to Emirates, the home advantage is with us and this is a game we must do our best in and get the three points we want,” said Dalic.

Meanwhile, Emirates head coach Paulo Comelli is relishing the meet-up against a top side like Al Ain. “This is a game I have been waiting for. It will be a very strong challenge for us and a good test of our strength to go up against one of the League’s main title contenders and see which side will prevail,” the Brazilian said.

“I have studied Al Ain thoroughly and the team has quality players across all positions. So, the fact that Omar Abdulrahman and Asamoah Gyan will be missing doesn’t make a difference. We are ready for a tough game,” Comelli added. Emirates’ wins have come against Al Fujairah and Bani Yas, while they went down to League leaders Al Wahda and Al Jazira. They drew with Al Dhafrah and Al Sharjah. But that win against Bani Yas will cross their minds when they take on Al Ain in the Garden City.

james@khaleejtimes.com



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