Al Jazira ready for 'difficult task' against Al Ain as AGL title race enters penultimate stretch
Baniyas also have one eye on title when they play Al Dhafra
Al Jazira manager is backing his players to overcome a tough task against Al Ain heading into the penultimate round of Arabian Gulf League.
Al Jazira and Baniyas enter the closing stretch with a point separating them in the title race.
A win for Jazira over Al Ain at Mohamed bin Zayed stadium and a draw or defeat for Baniyas at Al Dhafra can give the ‘Pride of Abu Dhabi’ a third league title on Friday.
Jazira manager Marcel Keizer described their meeting with Al Ain as “difficult but not impossible”.
“Al Ain remain strong and at large, regardless of their standing in the league,” the Dutchman said.
“Our meeting in the first round ended in a 2-2 draw. However, we know they are a good side and we are facing a difficult task. Obviously our goal is to try and win this game.”
Any other result would mean the title race will be decided on the final round of the league for which a date is yet to be announced.
In case Jazira and Baniyas finish the league on equal points, the former will be declared winner on the head-to-head games, having won the first leg 3-2 and the return match ending in a 3-3 result.
Jazira failed to stretch their lead over Baniyas, who were held to a scoreless result by Shabab Al Ahli, when they were also held to a 3-3 draw by the struggling Ajman last week.
“Yes, we lost two possible points after leading twice in the game, which was very disappointing. However, from the reactions of my players, I feel we still can take a lot of positives from that result,” Keizer said.
Al Ain manager Pedro Emanuel believes the pressure is on Jazira with a potential title to play for.
“Playing Jazira is always a big game for us but it’s pressure game for them as they are battling for the league title,” the Portuguese said.
“Winning is important for both teams and we are as determined to return with three points as they are. I expect a good game and the team with more possession to win this game.”
Baniyas manager Daniel Isaila may have a seemingly easier task when they travel to Al Dhafra.
“The pressure is on both teams after the situation remains the same following the stalemates,” the Romanian pointed out.
“We drew against a team that defeated the Asian Champions [Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia] in the Asian Champions League game last month. I thought it was a satisfying result.
“However, we don’t underrate any team. We know Dhafra are strong on their home turf. They certainly don’t have the pressure as we do. For us, we need to win this game to keep our title hopes alive.”
Published: May 7, 2021 08:13 AM