Braga wary of Cannavaro's influence as leader

The Al Jazira coach insists his side will not focus only on the mercurial defender but admits he can be a nucleus of a "rock-solid defence".

Al Ahli's Fabio Cannavaro trains in Dubai.
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ABU DHABI // Abel Braga, the Al Jazira coach, believes his team's first meeting with Fabio Cannavaro, the Italian former World Player of the Year, will provide a challenge for his players when they travel to Dubai for a meeting with Al Ahli. "He is still a great player and can be the nucleus of a rock-solid defence," Braga said ahead of their Pro League meeting at the Rashid Stadium tomorrow at 8pm.

"Cannavaro alone can't do everything but he is a real good addition to Ahli's defence. He is a good leader and great motivator for the team. "However, Ahli are not dependent on their defence, they have a good attack led by Ahmed Khalil and a strong midfield marshalled by Pinga." According to Braga, Khalil is dangerous both in the air and inside the penalty box. Pinga, the Brazilian, who Ahli signed from Al Wahda, can be dangerous in the midfield as well as being effective at set pieces.

"Let's be practical," Braga said. "We are playing against a strong team. It can be anybody's game, like the one we played against Wahda. Ahli have invested in players and they are a rejuvenated side." Braga was pleased with the 7-0 President's Cup rout of Ras al Khaimah on Monday and hopes the glut of goals will spark his side's attack. "Jazira have always played an offensive game but we may try to strike a good balance against Ahli.

"We have an attacking midfield with Ibrahim Diaky, Subait Khater and Salem Masoud, who is the ace in the team, because he can play anywhere," he said. Braga felt Bare, his Brazilian striker, did not receive enough service against Wahda but expects things to be different against Ahli. "They are still getting adapted to play with Bare. But I think the time has come for them to click and this would be the ideal time for the combinations to work, after three league matches."