Zlatko Dalic: Al Ain will approach Asian Champions League final ‘without any nerves’

Al Ain manager Zlatko Dalic spoke to the media on Friday ahead of the Asian Champions League final second leg.
Zlatko Dalic, right, has said his Al Ain side will be "100 per cent" ready for the Asian Champions League final second leg on Saturday. Courtesy: Al Ain FC
Zlatko Dalic, right, has said his Al Ain side will be "100 per cent" ready for the Asian Champions League final second leg on Saturday. Courtesy: Al Ain FC

On Saturday, Al Ain battle South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium for the Asian Champions League — the most important trophy in Asian club football. Al Ain manager Zlatko Dalic spoke to the media on Friday.

Overturning a 2-1 deficit

Al Ain were defeated last week in the first leg at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium, when Leonardo scored twice for Jeonbuk after Danilo Asprilla had given the visitors a second-half lead. Al Ain, the 2003 Asian champions and still the only UAE club to win the trophy, know a 1-0 victory at home in the second leg would give them a second title on the away-goal rule.

More Asian Champions League final:

• Can Al Ain win? John McAuley looks at how the UAE side can become champions for a second time

• Choi Kang-hee: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors aim to win 2016 final ‘to erase the bad memories of 2011’

• Five lessons: Al Ain must learn from first leg defeat to prevail in second leg and become champions

On being one match from their dream

“It is only 90 minutes to play for title, for history, for glory,” Dalic said. “I feel amazing because we play the final in our stadium, a big game and really I look forward to it. We worked very hard, through a very difficult last 10 months for this match. We have a good result and now have a good chance to do our best, to do our job. My job will be to prepare my team to play football, to enjoy the final, to play without nerves, without any stress and to give the best on our side.”

On the impact of the first leg

“Tomorrow will be a different game, especially because we had a 2-1 defeat so we must score a goal,” Dalic said. “Jeonbuk don’t need to, they just need to keep the result. When we played there, we were the better team, we created other opportunities to score a goal. We must keep our style. I don’t want to care too much about the other team — I know what my team can do, particularly at our home, in front of our fans. Most important is for us to be patient, because they have fast players who can always do something. But many things depend on my team.”

On Amer Abdulrahman’s fitness

“For this game, for the final, I need players who are 100 per cent ready,” Dalic said. “Amer is not 100 per cent fit: he will be a miss for us, but he will be on the bench — if we need him, he will play. As you know for a long, long time, if some players are not with us, other players will be available and ready for this crucial game. There are no excuses for this game — we will be 100 per cent ready for it.”

On sacrificing everything for this trophy

During almost three years with Al Ain, Dalic has won the Arabian Gulf League title and the President’s Cup. Asked if he would trade those victories for the Champions League crown, he replied: “I told you, I repeat: this is the most important game for me, the most important title for me. Hopefully, if I do this, if I reach this title, tomorrow I will become a big coach.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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Published: November 25, 2016 04:00 AM

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