Al Ain: Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic reiterated to his wards that their Fifa Club World Cup debut is the ‘reward of their last year’s success’ and they need to enjoy it more than anything else to play their best football.
Mamic was of the view that there was no point pondering too much on the mega event as they already know that there are some of the bigwigs of world football taking part.
“I think we have to enjoy and there is no psychological pressure. Maybe once in a lifetime one get an opportunity to be a part of this tournament and we have to enjoy to try to do our best,” said Mamic, whose side will be taking on New Zealand’s Team Wellington in the play-off on Wednesday.
Al Ain come into the tournament after crashing out of the President’s Cup Last 16 following a 5-3 defeat to Al Wasl over the weekend but Mamic is unfazed.
“I don’t think it is a big challenge for me, but it is a great tournament. I don’t feel any pressure because I take this tournament as a bonus. This tournament is different and we have to forget what happened in the past. We have to concentrate on the next match which is Wellington and we have to concentration on it,” said Mamic adding that, they have done good homework about the opposition though.
“Wellington is a good offensive team. They have good strikers, mid-fielders and their key player is (Andrew) Bevin. Then it is not just him, there are also other good players but in football everything is possible. That’s why from the first second of the match we have to concentrate and be at a good level to make good play,” said Mamic, who had tried to beef up the Al Ain midfield with the inclusion of Malian defensive mid-fielder Tongo Doumbia and Portuguese attacking mid-fielder Ruben Ribeiro from Lisbon side Sporting.
However, it is learnt that Ribeiro will not be figuring in this outing as he is yet to get clearance from Fifa as he still has some contractual obligation with Sporting. It is a bit of a blow as the duo had been training with the national side for over two months now.
“Doumbia is in good shape but training is one thing and match is another. But he will be participating in this game but how much we will see. I know him from before, he is very good player and I’m sure he can help the team,” said Mamic, before heading for a training session at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium.
Al Ain defender Mohammed Fayez was upbeat about his team’s chances in the contest against Wellington. “It’s a big tournament, of course, and Al Ain’s participation on the world stage is already an achievement. Obviously, the first game is the most important for us and we are confident of a good result. At this moment this is the only game we can focus on and hopefully win,” said Fayez, whose words were also endorsed by defensive midfielder Ahmad Barman.
“This game is not just about Al Ain but about the UAE. We will do our best for sure and we ask the fans from all over the country to come and stand behind us, regardless if you are a fan of Al Ain or any other club. We are confident they will all be there at the stadium.”