Al Ain manager Serhiy Rebrov has urged his players to fight through the fatigue when the Adnoc Pro League table-toppers aim to extend their unbeaten start to the season against Al Dhafra on Tuesday.
The Garden City club made it eight games without defeat when they played out a 1-1 draw at Shabab Al Ahli on Friday, and four days later they host Dhafra at the Hazza bin Zayed stadium.
Considering the quick turnaround between matches, Rebrov insists the only priority for Al Ain is to collect a victory as they aim to continue their bid for a first title in four years.
“That was a very tough and energy sapping game against Shabab Al Ahli and I wish my players had sufficient time to recover as we move on to our next match against Dhafra,” Rebrov said.
“For me, I do not care much about who we play because our objective is to win the three points from every game we play.
“It doesn’t matter whether we are playing Shabab Al Ahli or Dhafra, we have to show seriousness and a strong desire to win the three points to maintain our lead in the league."
Dhafra sit 11th in the Pro League table after collecting seven points from their first eight games, but Rebrov expects a tough game as they continue to show improvements under new Brazilian manager Rogerio Micale.
“There is a clear change in the team's playing style, especially in the offensive aspect,” the Ukrainian added.
“I watched their match last week, which they played most of the time with only 10 players. We are aware of the challenge they pose, so we have to focus and show respect to them.”
Marcel Keizer, the Al Jazira manager, has similar sentiments ahead of their trip to Ajman. Defending champions Jazira trail Al Ain by two points, while Ajman occupy ninth spot in the table.
“Ajman started the season well and they have been a bit unlucky in their last two matches,” the Dutchman said.
“They have had some good results and we know of their capabilities. We have some injury problems, which gives the opportunity for some younger players in the squad.
“It’s the philosophy of Jazira to provide younger players with the playing opportunities whenever possible and this is match is one of those opportunities."
Khalfan Mubarak and Khalifa Al Hammadi are likely to miss the game, while Zayed Al Ameri and Abdulrahman Al Ameri will have to pass a fitness test on Tuesday morning.
Despite trailing Al Ain, Keizer insists Jazira are not looking too far ahead in the title race, instead focusing on one match at a time.
“Against Ajman, we hope we can continue to play as we did in our last game (when Jazira beat Baniyas 2-0),” he said.
“For us, we are not thinking of our title defence yet but thinking of our next game. Right now, we need to keep winning and then at some points think of winning the league again, hopefully.”
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Al Wasl meet Al Nasr in the Dubai derby at the Zabeel stadium and Shabab Al Ahli travel to Kalba.