Abu Dhabi: Al Ain coach Juan Carlos Garrido is well aware of the importance of keeping the winning momentum going to fancy their title chances in the Arabian Gulf League when they take on Al Jazira in the round 19 derby match at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium on Wednesday. Action starts at 8.30pm.
With Sharjah not stepping their foot off the pedal and having taken an eight point advantage at the top, there is very little room for error from the chasing pack here on.
“Al Ain has entered a very important stage of the current football season and it is certain that all the next results will determine the team’s position in the competition,” said Garrido ahead of his side’s clash against the Pride of Abu Dhabi.
“It is very important for all team members to the management, technical staff and players to stay focused so that will do our best to win and continue to have strong results in the coming stages,” added Garrido, who felt Al Jazira will be a strong test in their backyard.
“I saw Jazira against Sharjah and it confirmed that our competitors have good players and they are led by a great coach in Damiën Hertog, but we look forward to winning. I have spent just a short time with my team. but I felt there is a strong desire from all players in the team to yield positive results and bring happiness to their fans.”
Al Jazira, who are just four points behind Al Ain, come into the contest following their 3-2 loss in the league against leaders Sharjah, but coach Damein Hertog believes the club’s supporters can inspire his players.
“Our home fans were disappointed by the result against Sharjah, but we want to amend that by producing a winning performance at our own stadium,” asserted Hertog, adding that their home fans are fantastic and they will be very important for this match where his side will be missing the services of defender Fares Juma with suspension of attacking midfielder Leonardo due to injury.
“Football is a team sport meaning that fans, players and coaches are in it together. We are all happy when we win, but we are also sad when we lose.
“Our fans can give us an extra boost which will certainly help inspire my players even more to win the game. We all want to make them happy and proud and getting the victory in this Abu Dhabi derby is something that we are aiming for.”
He added: “Sharjah was a tough opponent, but Al Ain will be bigger test as they are the defending champions.”
Today: Al Nasr vs Al Wasl at Al Maktoum Stadium 5.50pm; Al Jazira vs Al Ain at Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium 8.30pm;
Tomorrow: Al Dhafra vs Al Wahda at Hamdan Bin Zayed Stadium 6pm, Ajman vs Sharjah at Rashid Bin Saeed Stadium 8.30pm;
On Friday: Fujairah vs Kalba at Fujairah Stadium 8.30pm, Emirates vs Bani Yas at Emirates Stadium 5.45pm.