Abu Dhabi: Coming on the back of their morale-boosting victory in the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League, Al Ain will take on Bani Yas in their opening fixture of the Arabian Gulf League at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on Sunday.
Al Ain coach Zlatko Dalic was upbeat about his team starting on a high and felt that taking a strong start in the league was a must.
“We are always required to be stronger and better because we are Al Ain. We must back our good result in AFC with a strong start in the league,” said Dalic, who feels that Bani Yas will come hard at them.
“We need to be in the highest degree of focus, be patient, cautious and show strong character in front of the opponent,” added Dalic, who also revealed that his main focus this season was to make it to the ‘Club World Cup’ by winning the AFC Champions League.
“We will be competing hard for all the titles this season. In the local tournaments, we will be getting strong resistance from four to five teams. Qualifying for the Club World Cup is also our goal,” said Dalic, who will be missing the services of his right-back Mohammad Ahmad for the outing against Bani Yas with injury.
“Ahmad is ruled out for this clash and it is unlikely that he will be in action for a month. However, I know there are players in my team who are keen to make the opportunity count if given a chance,” said Dalic, who also backed his Brazilian forward Douglas to showcase his striking prowess in the coming games.
“Douglas has the team’s full support and I have a lot of confidence in him and so do his teammates as he is one of our best strikers. Within six months, he has scored 18 goals and this is a fabulous number,” felt the Croatian.
Douglas, too, was optimistic about himself and his team doing well in the local league.
“We know very well what is required of us at the beginning of journey of local competition. It will be a strong challenge and our task against Bani Yas will not be easy. However, our main purpose is to win and get those full points,” said Douglas adding that, Al Ain will be looking to follow their own style of play and show strong character so that they can ended up triumphs.
Fixtures: Al Dhafra vs Al Nasr at Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Stadium 5.40pm onwards; Al Ain vs Bani Yas, Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium 8:15pm onwards.