Ibrahim Diaky says there will be no letting up at Al Ain as the Arabian Gulf League leaders move closer to another UAE championship.
The club’s advantage at the summit increased this weekend to seven points, following Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Al Nasr. Al Jazira, in second, were defeated 1-0 by Al Wahda on Sunday.
With four rounds remaining, Al Ain require two victories to seal a third top-flight title in four seasons. They have won 11 of their past 13 league matches.
On Thursday, they host bottom club Kalba, although Diaky has said his teammates must not allow complacency to ruin their bid for a 12th league trophy.
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“It’s not finished yet,” the veteran midfielder said. “We still have the most important game, against Kalba. We have to take all the games seriously now. The closer we’re getting to the end, we have to be 100 per cent focused.
“Jazira are a quality team with good players. They’re doing their part in trying to get the championship. There are four games to go so we’re still on.”
Diaky, 33 next month, was a key contributor for Al Jazira in 2011, scoring 15 league goals when they won their only top-flight championship. After eight seasons with the capital club, the Ivorian native joined Al Ain ahead of the 2013/14 season. This term, he has six goals in 20 league matches,
Al Ain remain in the hunt for three competitions; they sit second in their Asian Champions League group with two matches to play. Then, in May, they begin the defence of their President’s Cup crown.
While Diaky stressed concentration will be key, he dismissed suggestions the victory against top-four-chasing Nasr meant Al Ain had overcome their greatest obstacle in the hunt for the title.
“All matches are important, there are no big games or small games,” he said. “We have to play them all with full energy and try to get the three points. We still have the Asian Champions League, and have the President’s Cup to come, as well, so we have to keep the level high. We have to work harder to try to finish in a good way.”
Asamoah Gyan, the Al Ain striker, reiterated the need to retain focus, although last season’s Golden Boot winner said he was unsure if he will be fit to contribute to his club’s quest. Gyan missed last week’s Champions League draw with Pakhtakor, the Uzbekistan side, and began the Nasr match on the bench. He was not introduced until the 72nd minute.
“I don’t feel 100 per cent,” he said. “I’m still struggling with some pain in my right thigh. It’s been frustrating for me this season; I can’t do what I want to do on the pitch. I’m still having treatment, so I’ll see how it goes.”
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