Al Jazira's Ricardo Oliveira will delay flight home to help team

The striker will travel to Brazil after the Pro League match against Baniyas following the death of his mother.

Ricardo Oliveira is booked on the next flight home after the Baniyas match following the news the Brazilian's mother died after a brief illness. An Al Jazira official has been quick to praise the striker, applauding his commitment to the team during a difficult time. Pawan Singh / The National
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ABU DHABI // Ricardo Oliveira will play despite the death of his mother in Brazil after a brief illness.

The former AC Milan forward has decided to play in Al Jazira's crucial game against Baniyas at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium before taking the next flight home to join his family.

"Ricardo was granted permission to leave but he has decided to play in Monday's match," said Ali Al Nuaimi, a club spokesman.

"We have arranged everything for him to leave in the first available flight home after the game. It was his decision to play and the club management deeply appreciates his commitment even at a time of difficulty.

"The players and the technical staff have all rallied around him at this time of difficulty. The fact Ricardo has decided to play will certainly motivate his teammates to give him an appropriate result on the pitch."

Oliveira's commitment will certainly be appreciated by his countryman and coach Paulo Bonamigo, who, after overseeing a poor start to the season, has seen his side steady the ship to move up into fifth place in the Pro League table.

Jazira, who won the championship in 2011, are seven points behind the leaders Al Ain but only one behind Al Ahli, Baniyas and Al Nasr with one game remaining in the first half of the season.

"There is no need for panic because there is still a long way to go in the league and we are right up there with the early pacesetters," the Brazilian said.

"The next two matches are very crucial for us and it is two big games against Baniyas and Al Wahda. If we can come through these two games we will be in a strong position at the end of the first round in the league."

Jazira showed plenty of fighting spirit to come back from two goals down to beat Al Shaab 3-2 away last week.

"That's the kind of result that can motivate any team and couldn't have come at a better time for us," Bonamigo said.

"For sure, it has relieved the pressure after we conceded a late equaliser against Dubai in a 1-1 result in the previous game. We have played well but sometimes haven't had the desired results. This is football.

"Baniyas are a strong team but we are prepared for them. We are not worried about what they have and how they play, but we will play to our strength and with the quality we have.

"We had a few disappointing results earlier in the season but, overall, we have kept improving. It takes a lot of character to come from two goals down to win a game and we achieved that in our last game and it just goes on to prove the improvement."

Jazira will be without Shin Hyung-min, the South Korean centre-back, who was shown a red card in the Shaab match.

Baniyas will be without the defenders Nawaf Mubarak and Mohammed Jaber, both serving one-match bans for collecting three yellow cards this term.

A victory for Baniyas in their last match, against Al Ain, could have moved them level on points at the top of the table. However, the Pro League champions cantered to an easy 3-0 win.

"It is a crucial stage in the competition and this result is very important for both teams to consolidate their positions before the league takes a break," said Jozef Chovanec, the Baniyas coach. "Our objective, as always, is to win. It will be a very tough and interesting match between two top teams. We had a poor result against Al Ain, but they are a better team in the last match, but that's behind us."

4.50pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 1