181209 al ain gharib
Al Ain’s Mohammad Gharib takes on Al Wasl’s Caio Correa in President’s Cup Last 16, which Al Ain lost 5-3. Image Credit: AGL

Dubai: Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic insists his team have no problems and are ready to give it their all in Wednesday’s Fifa Club World Cup opener against Wellington, despite having just crashed out of the President’s Cup Last 16 with a 5-3 defeat to Al Wasl over the weekend.

Fabio Lima, Abdullah Jassem and Caio Correa had Al Wasl 3-0 up at half-time on Friday before Caio Lucas and Hussain Al Shahat pulled two back before the hour.

Jassem and Correa then completed their braces either side of Ebrahim Diaky’s consolation. “We made mistakes more than the competitor and didn’t show the desired level,” said Mamic. “But I don’t think we have problems in attack. We scored three goals and that was enough to win. We’ve scored more goals at this stage of the season compared to last year.

“Al Wasl is a good team that managed to exploit our mistakes. When you lose the ball, it’s hard to control, and our passes weren’t good enough. Rayan Yaslam and Amer Abdul Rahman were injured and Yahya Nader, Mohammad Abel Rahman and Ahmad Barman were all rested with fatigue, so I pushed Mohammad Fayez to the back and prepared Tsukasa Shiotani to the centre of midfield.”

Asked how this defeat affected Club World Cup preparations, he said: “The participation of Al Ain in the Club World Cup is the culmination of a wonderful season’s efforts.

“We are required to enjoy what we have achieved and work to show our best to achieve honourable results. We don’t suffer from pressure and all our focus is to provide the best level.”

As well as regular foreigners; Shiotani, Al Shahat, Lucas and Marcus Berg, Al Ain will also be able to field Tongo Doumbia and Ruben Ribeiro, who were brought in especially for this tournament, as there are no restrictions on the number of foreign players.

Hosts Al Ain, who qualified to the Club World Cup as last season’s UAE domestic league winners, kick-off against Oceanian Champions League winners Wellington of New Zealand in the opening play-off for a quarter-final slot at Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium from 7.30pm on Wednesday.

Mamic will be looking to break the record run for a UAE side set by Al Jazira last year, who reached the semi-final before a 2-1 defeat to eventual winners Real Madrid. Madrid are back in the competition as European champions this year, alongside Kashima Antlers, Guadalajara, Esperance and either Boca Juniors or River Plate.

Wellington coach Manuel Jose Figuera said the pressure would all be on Al Ain in the opening game. “Al Ain is required to appear strong and reach the second round in front of their own fans. We respect them but are motivated, especially as we are not used to playing in front of such large crowds.

“It’s true they are on home soil but that’s not enough to beat us. We have seen a number of their games, know their style and strengths, and certainly there are weaknesses to take advantage of.

“We will take each game as it comes and not think too far ahead. We want to go far so must take it one day at a time. If things go the way we want then we’ll start thinking about playing Esperance in the quarter-final.”