Dubai: Al Ain’s 2-0 Arabian Gulf Cup group win away to Al Jazira on Wednesday proves the club are in for a big season, according to coach Zoran Mamic.
Second-half goals from Caio Lucas and Jamal Hussain on 59 and 94 minutes saw The Boss go second in Group B on six points from three games, three points behind leaders Al Nasr.
Mamic was delighted with the win, especially as he was without 50 per cent of his squad, and said his side’s strength in depth bode well for the future.
“I am proud of my players who confirmed their eligibility to win,” said the Croatian, whose side are also second in the Arabian Gulf League, level on 13 points from five games with leaders Sharjah, but separated on goal difference.
“Everyone is called upon to redouble their efforts when they have a chance to get in the team and this win confirms the team’s entitlements for the current season are numerous.”
As well as league, cup and Asian Champions League commitments, last season’s league and President’s Cup winners also have December’s UAE-hosted Fifa Club World Cup to contend with this season.
“The team is in dire need of the efforts of all players. The Club World Cup is just two months away and we must be rational in setting our goals for the season as we look forward to offering a perfect season, to maintain league and cup titles and develop the team to fight in more tournaments.
“There will be no weak teams in the Club World Cup, but we will be competitive and I’m not under any pressure because of our participation,” he added.
On the performance of Muhannad Salem, who wasn’t selected for the UAE’s pre-Asian Cup training camp in Spain this week, Mamic said: “Muhannad presented a remarkable level in defence, and he contributed to the build-up of the opening goal.
“He’s a player with the experience to find solutions. The team has great challenges this season and it’s good for me as a coach to have a player with the possibilities of Muhannad.”
In Wednesday’s other Arabian Gulf Cup games, Al Nasr beat Sharjah 3-0 at home to consolidate their lead over Al Ain in Group B and Kalba lost 1-0 away to Dibba in a basement scrap in Group A.
On Tuesday, Al Wahda beat Ajman 1-0 to top Group A. Al Dhafra went third in Group B after their 4-2 win at home to Emirates and Shabab Ahli beat Al Wasl 2-0 away to go fourth in Group A.