Abu Dhabi: UAE striker Ahmad Khalil could make an ironic debut for Al Ain at his old club Al Jazira’s stadium in the last 16 of the President’s Cup against Al Dhafra on Wednesday from 5.05pm.
The 26-year-old striker bought out the remainder of his Al Jazira contract and joined Al Ain on a free transfer on Monday. It came a week after an initial loan move to the Garden City club fell through on transfer deadline day due to a salary cap.
Khalil’s move brought to an end a miserable six months for him at Al Jazira, where, due to injuries and a pay dispute, he made just two appearances playing for a combined 27 minutes, after joining on a free transfer from Al Ahli last summer.
“Ahmad Khalil was born ready for all challenges,” said Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic, whose side returned to the top of the league with a 3-2 win away to Al Wasl in Friday’s top-two clash.
“We are now required to confront Al Dhafra in the cup to pursue the strong returns from the last game against Al Wasl,” added Mamic. “We will do our best to qualify to satisfy our ambition in the cup.
“I can’t satisfy everyone because I can only choose 11 players, but we are always looking to put our best options in the formation and my team is completely ready for all challenges ahead after the return of injured players.
“The core of the team will be there because this is one of the most important tournaments and our success lies in starting off with a win against Al Dhafra.
“Al Dhafra play good football despite their league position, and all teams will be keen to show their best against Al Ain,” he said of the bottom of the table side, who have recently replaced coach Mohammad Kwid with former Hatta boss Gjoko Hadzievski.
“Everyone must show fighting spirit and focus to limit the amount of chances we conceded in the last game, which luckily weren’t converted.”
Wednesday Last 16 fixtures
Bani Yas — Al Wasl, Al Ain Stadium, 5.05pm
Al Ain — Al Dhafra, Al Jazira Stadium, 5.05pm
Al Nasr — Dibba, Sharjah Stadium, 8.05pm