Dubai: Al Ain have a real fight on their hands to win all seven of their remaining fixtures if they are to win the league this season, according to assistant coach Damir Krznar.
After beating Ajman 7-0 at home on Saturday to maintain a two-point lead at the top of the table, Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic had declared that “no team” could put pressure on his unbeaten side and those who wanted to catch up would have to ‘double their efforts.’
But there was a change of tack in the press conference ahead of Thursday’s hosting of second-from-bottom Emirates, which Mamic didn’t attend.
“Winning 7-0 is good but at the same time it shouldn’t make us think the next game is easy,” said Krznar, whose side are closely followed by Al Wahda and Al Wasl. “There are seven important steps to the title and each one represents a strong challenge and we should deal with each one separately.
“Our next game against Emirates is the most important at this moment and we are required to win to take three points if we want to stay on course to win the title. It will be difficult and will require fighting spirit and strong desire.
“It’s good to finish the season without a loss but we won’t be focusing too much on that although the incentive is there,” he said of going a full league season without defeat.
“Competitors in second and third are following us and this is the bigger motivation to follow up with more wins.”
Al Ain striker Marcus Berg agreed: “The competition for the title is between three teams so we must keep fighting to be at the top.
“Those teams won’t give up easily but will instead strive to catch us. The UAE league is also strong and even teams not competing for the title can cause a problem for the top three.
“Our performances have improved remarkably as the Ajman win demonstrated but we have to redouble our efforts for the coming stages. The next match won’t be easy and we must do our best to reap a positive result.”
Thursday’s other game sees bottom of the league Al Dhafra host third from bottom Dibba from 5.30pm. Al Ain’s match at home to Emirates kicks off at 8pm. Al Nasr travel to Ajman on Friday while Shabab Ahli also host Sharjah.
Arabian Gulf League fixtures
Al Dhafra v Dibba, 5.30pm
Al Ain v Emirates, 8pm
Ajman v Al Nasr, 5.25pm
Shabab Ahli v Sharjah, 8pm