Dubai: Al Wasl striker Caio Correa says his side ‘will set the rules’ at home to Qatar’s Al Sadd from 7pm on Tuesday to get their first return to the Asian Champions League (ACL) since 2008 off to a winning start.
“In my house, I set the rules and my team has to start off with three points,” said the Brazilian, whose team will be making only their second appearance in Asia since debuting a decade ago.
Back then, Al Wasl failed to get out of the group but Caio said their lack of experience won’t dent their title-ambitions despite being drawn in a tough group alongside other sides Persepolis of Iran and Uzbekistan’s Nasaf Qarshi.
“The expectation is high and the motivation also,” he added. “Every player wants to play in a big tournament like this.
“It has been a long time that Al Wasl hasn’t participated, but a club as big as Al Wasl has to go into every competition dreaming high, not just to participate but to make a good competition and win.
“If we are playing just to participate, then I don’t want to play. We’re a big club and we have to get used to winning every time, this is a big competition and the mentality has to be to win — we will pass this mentality onto the other players so we are all on the same page.”
Al Wasl coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena agreed: “We have a vision to do good things in this tournament and make the club and fans happy. I hope we play the way we’ve prepared and make the other teams play how we want.”
Arruabarrena’s side have slipped from first to third in the Arabian Gulf League recently, but the Argentine said playing in Asia was an opportunity for a fresh start.
“It’s true we haven’t been at the same level recently but the league is not finished yet and we will carry on.
“At the beginning of a new tournament there is always pressure, especially after several years of being away, and against sides who have more experience because they feature more regularly, but I hope we turn that pressure into motivation.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Al Ain are away to Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in their Asian Champions League group opener from 9.25pm. Both sides are losing finalists from the past two editions: Al Ain in 2016 and Al Hilal in 2017.
“The game won’t be easy because it brings together the two strongest teams in the group, but we have to believe in our ability to win,” said Al Ain’s Swedish striker Marcus Berg, whose side is also up against Iran’s Esteghlal and Qatar’s Al Rayyan in the pool stages.
“Our team has been doing good in recent times,” - he added of the Arabian Gulf League leaders — “and we have to continue to score to beat Al Hilal in Riyadh. We are excited to win there and we enter only with the mentality to do just that.”
Al Ain qualified to the Asian Champions League after beating Bahrain’s Malkiya 2-0 in last month’s play-off.
They assumed the play-off spot despite only finishing fourth in the Arabian Gulf League last season after replacing third-placed Al Ahli, who were merged with Shabab and Dubai Club over the summer rendering them ineligible to compete on the continent this season. Al Wasl qualified after finishing runners-up in last season’s Arabian Gulf League.