Al Jazira manager Marcel Keizer has said he is happy to be patient as his players rediscover their form and fitness during the early part of the new season as the Adnoc Pro League champions prepare to face Kalba on Wednesday.
The Abu Dhabi side got their title defence off to a perfect start by defeating Al Dhafra 2-0 at Mohamed bin Zayed stadium and now make the trip to Kalba aiming to make it two wins from two.
However, despite the encouraging start, Keizer is keen to temper expectations at this stage of the campaign.
“It is always good to make a winning start for the confidence of the team, particularly when we are not 100 per cent,” said Keizer, who has reunited with Abdoulay Diaby after the Malian striker signed a two-year contract with Jazira. The pair worked together at Sporting Lisbon.
“That was a tough opening game we won, but yet, I don’t want to rush my players when I know they haven’t reached the level I would like so early in the season.
“There were players who returned from the national team camp and they need time. For me, there is no rush to get them on to the pitch straightaway. They will be ready maybe in another two to three weeks.”
Kalba will be hoping to bounce back after going down to Sharjah to an injury-time goal.
“Kalba are after an excellent first game and any team with such a good performance will be full of confidence,” Keizer said. “We expect them to come very hard at us on their home turf but we are ready as usual."
In the other early game on Wednesday, Ajman will be hoping momentum is on their side when facing Shabab Al Ahli at the Rashid stadium in Dubai.
Ajman were impressive against Al Nasr in their first game, scoring three unanswered goals against the Dubai club.
In Wednesday's late matches, Al Ain will aim to continue their winning start when they meet Emirates at the Hazza bin Zayed stadium, while Al Wasl will also be looking for a second win when they take on Khorfakkan at the Zabeel stadium.