AGL Preview: Al Ain v Emirates
Al Ain Head Coach Zlatko Dalic believes that beating Emirates in the second round of the Arabian Gulf League on Thursday would serve as an ideal confidence booster ahead of their AFC Champions League Semi-Final against El Jaish of Qatar next Tuesday. With Emirates having agreed to switch the AGL fixture from their home ground to the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, everyone is gearing up for Al Ain’s big shot on the continental stage, and Dalic was grateful for the support received. “I would like to thank Emirates for agreeing to transfer the match to our stadium so that we could avoid the tiring trip to Ras Al Khaimah before next week’s important game in the Champions League,” the Croatian coach said at his pre-match press conference, continuing: “After losing heavily in the end to Al Ahli in their first game, I’m sure Emirates will be aggressive and determined to do better when they face us, so we need to be wary of this.” And despite the disappointment of losing number one goalkeeper Khalid Eissa to a muscle injury suffered at the end of the first round victory over Bani Yas, Dalic was keen to express his confidence in Al Ain’s backup goalkeeping options.
Meanwhile, Emirates coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels has explicitly stated that his side will not be travelling to the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium with the aim of getting a draw. “We will not play for just a point in this game, despite the difficulty of the task we face, we are going with the aim of getting a positive outcome,” the German coach said at his pre-match press conference. “We made some mistakes against Al Ahli and had a poor first half, but we collected ourselves in the second half. In spite of the heavy score line in the end, there were some positives to take, and we have been working hard to correct the mistakes we made so that we can give a much-improved performance against Al Ain. We have not been convincing in our two games so far this season but we hope to correct this in the next match and raise our spirits as such,” he added.
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