Al Ain embrace party atmosphere surrounding Manchester City friendly

Dalic uses proximity to English champions as teaching moment for his players
Mohamed Al Sahlawi, who is employed by Saudi club Al Nassr, was one of several players who Al Ain borrowed for their friendly against Manchester City at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on May 15, 2014. Warren Little / Getty Images
Mohamed Al Sahlawi, who is employed by Saudi club Al Nassr, was one of several players who Al Ain borrowed for their friendly against Manchester City at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on May 15, 2014. Warren Little / Getty Images

AL AIN // Alex Brosque departed the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium clutching a few mementos from a souvenir night in the Garden City.

The Al Ain forward, given the first 30 minutes of his side’s friendly with Manchester City, had been there on the pitch at the final whistle, collecting his medal and enjoying an impressive fireworks display.

Moments later, he skipped through the mixed zone with the shirt of Javi Garcia, City’s £16 million (Dh98.7m) midfielder, and a few more entries in his iPhone’s photo album. Pictures pocketed with Garcia, Alvaro Negredo and Samir Nasri – players who four days earlier were crowned English Premier League winners – Brosque said it was an experience to live long in the memory.

“It was great,” the Australian said. “In the end, with all the fireworks and the presentation and everything, that’s where you allow yourself to be able to enjoy it. It was pretty surreal, to be honest.

“For us, it was fantastic to play against Premier League opposition. The quality of players they put out tonight was something you’d never forget – just to be standing next to those boys is crazy.”

City eventually took the tie convincingly at 3-0, but for Brosque and his Al Ain teammates, this was an evening to enjoy the revelry. The club’s new stadium officially inaugurated by the most welcome of guests, the match was played before a capacity crowd of 25,000.

“This stadium is brilliant,” Brosque said. “It’s a real football stadium, with a good atmosphere, and when it’s full like it was tonight, it just adds an extra 20 per cent to what’s happening out on the field.”

Taking it all in from the touchline, Zlatko Dalic, the Al Ain coach, cut a fairly contented figure at the finish, as well, despite his side’s defeat.

He had his work cut out, having to utilise a squad of 43 players, some from other Arabian Gulf League sides. Several of them he had never coached until Wednesday’s training session.

“It was a very nice party,” Dalic said. “A big day for my club. We enjoyed having Manchester City, being part of the Manchester City celebration.”

As a committed coach, there was time for a little instruction, as well.

“The players can see the shape of the Manchester City players, and it’s a great motivation for them to work on their fitness,” Dalic said. “Players must be strong in football and must look like City players.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: May 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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