Not looking for excuses, says Al Ain coach Leko

Not looking for excuses, says Al Ain coach Leko
Al Ain goalkeeper Mohammed Bu Sanda pulls off a brilliant save during a training session. - Twitter

Dubai - The Boss will dip into the bench when they take on an equally depleted Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf Cup

By James Jose

Published: Thu 5 Sep 2019, 9:28 PM

Last updated: Thu 5 Sep 2019, 11:37 PM

Despite missing a host of players to international duty, Al Ain coach Ivan Leko has said that he isn't going to hide behind excuses and added such situations go with the territory.
The Boss play their second fixture in the Arabian Gulf Cup, a mouth-watering match-up against Al Jazira on Friday night, and will be without shot stopper Khalid Eisa, Bandar Al Ahbabi, Ahmed Barman and Mohammed Shaker, who are on National duty with the UAE team
in Malaysia.
Add to that, Khalid Mohammed Al Balushi, Saeed Juma Al Saadi, Falah Waleed Al Junaibi and Ali Eid Ghamil are with the UAE Olympic squad in Croatia.
Eisa, Al Ahbabi, Barman, Shaker, Waleed and Juma had featured in the 2-2 draw against Shabab Al Ahli in their opener but Leko would now have to dip into his bench when they face Al Jazira.
And the Croatian was under no illusions about what it entails. "The big clubs are not looking for excuses," Leko said in his pre-match briefing.
"Whatever the absences, I look forward to seeing my
team perform well and show a great enthusiasm to win," added the 41-year-old, who took over the record 13-time Arabian Gulf League champions, from Spaniard Juan Carlos Garrido.
Leko did admit he will miss these players but said it presents a fine chance for the bench to press their case. "Al Ain will miss the efforts of the international players and we will definitely enter our next game with a team that is completely different from what
appeared against Shabab Al Ahli. But I'm confident that some of the young players that step in, will give a good account of themselves," said Leko, capped 13 times by Croatia.
And while Al Ain eye a first win, Al Jazira hope that a return to their fortress - the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium - will heal the wounds of last week.
The Pride of Abu Dhabi, who ran out 3-1 winners against promoted Khor Fakkan in the opening week, were handed a chastening 4-0 defeat by Shabab Al Ahli, the defending champions.
The Abu Dhabi club too are in the same situation as Al Ain, without a number of players like
Ali Khaseif, Salem Rashid, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Khalfan Mubarak, Ali Mabkhout, Omar Abdulrahman, Mohammed Al Attas and Zayed Al Ameri.The
other big game on the weekend is Al Nasr taking on Shabab Al Ahli at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Saturday night.
Al Wasl vs Fujairah, Zabeel Stadium, 7 p.m
Al Dhafra vs Khor Fakkan, Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Stadium, 7 p.m
Al Jazira vs Al Ain, Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, 9.15 p.m
Ajman vs Sharjah, Rashid bin Saeed Stadium, 7 p.m
Al Wahda vs Bani Yas, Al Nahyan Stadium, 7 p.m
Al Nasr vs Shabab Al Ahli, Al Maktoum Stadium, 9.15 p.m

More news from Sports