Al Ahli goalkeeper Majid Nasser (left) with coach Cosmin Olaroiu (centre) during the press conference ahead of their Arabian Gulf League match against Al Wasl. Image Credit: Courtesy: Al Ahli Club

Abu Dhabi: Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu is not at all happy with the scheduling of his team’s matches in the Arabian Gulf League and felt that his team was paying a ‘heavy price’ for participating in the Asian Champions League.

Al Ahli have a crucial engagement with Al Wasl on Monday at Zabeel Stadium, which will be their last outing of the first phase. A win here would put them just one point behind leaders Al Ain and that would set the tone for the second phase which starts on January 7.

“This is our eighth game in the period of 29 days and from my point of view this is not normal. Ours is a good team and has shown professionalism. This is an important game for us and I would thank them if they can achieve those three points as they have still not got any long rest,” said Olaroiu, adding that, his opponents Al Wasl, on the other hand, have managed enough rest and had plenty time to prepare for this outing.

“Rest is what our players are not getting. Al Wasl has the advantage as their players found rest,” said Olariou, whose last outing was just four days back against Emirates, which they won 2-1.

Olariou was also of the view that back-to-back matches was taking a toll on his players and not giving his injured players time to fully recover.

“We can’t afford to give our players proper time to recuperate as we have to get them on field immediately. That’s what I will be doing against Al Wasl as well,” revealed Olariou, who will also be missing the services of Korean Kwon Kyung Won due to suspension.

“Kyung will miss out and (Rodrigo) Lima is still not 100 per cent but we will decide on his participation later,” revealed Olariou adding, “I’m actually feeling sad for the players because they are being punished for playing in the Asian Champions League. I hope we could be at good levels in the second round.”

Olariou felt that if his wards could get across the line against Al Wasl, then it would be like a job well done despite all the hurdles.

“We have 10 wins in the league so far and our course in the Asian Champions League was good. In the Cup, we reached the semi-final and all this happened in spite of the pressures that we’ve had. So it was more than a satisfactory performance from our team,”asserted Olariou.

Al Ahli custodian Majid Nasser said: “Al Wasl will be a tough match, we as players under the circumstances that we are experiencing. Al Wasl provides a good level to competition, but our determination to maintain our position will make us fight.”

Al Wasl will also be well aware that a win against second-placed Al Ahli will provide them with the much needed boost going into the next phase. Three valuable points means they will join Al Nasr, who are on third spot with 25 points.

Al Wasl’s Argentine coach Gabriel Calderon too was upbeat about his team’s chances: “Everyone knows this game will be tough for sure. We will enter the game in order to win and collect the three points. Al Ahli is the strongest team on paper with some quality international players, but the 90 minutes is where everything is happening.”