Al Benzarti raises the bar

Lutfi al Benzarti, the Baniyas coach, is targeting a position above their fourth-placed finish last season.

The Tunisian has raised the bar to suggest his players are ready to topple the likes of Al Wahda, Al Jazira and Al Ain, those who finished above them last season, as well as the big-spending Al Ahli, and the rejuvenated Sharjah and Al Wasl.

"It is possible to finish in the top three with the wealth of young Emirati talent we have in the squad," al Benzarti said after their 2-0 demolition of Al Dhafra on Thursday, taking their tally to six points from two games.

"This is a young team with a bright future. I feel most of the players from the Under 23 squad that won the Gulf Cup will make it to the senior national team. And these players are the nucleus of this present Baniyas squad."

Baniyas have more members than any Pro League club of the youth national team which won the Under 23 Gulf Cup in Kuwait more than a month ago. Amer Abdulrahman and Theyab Awana are a couple of stars from that lineup, along with Ahmed Ali, Haboush Saleh and Mohammed Fawzi.

Adding more muscle are the foreigners, Fawzi Basheer, the Oman international, and Andre Senghor, the tall Senegalese, both on their second season, and Eder Silveira, the Brazilian defender, who crossed over from Sharjah.

"We have won two-out-of-two and that's a pretty good start," added al Benzarti. "Dhafra were a dangerous team because they were here after a 2-0 win over Ahli.

"It took 75 minutes for us to score, but had the players been on target from the chances we created, we could have won by a more convincing margin. Nevertheless, I am quite satisfied with the three points."