Al Wasl look to tighten grip on top as Ajman face Al Jazira challenge - GulfToday

Al Wasl look to tighten grip on top as Ajman face Al Jazira challenge


Al Wahda players in action ahead of their Pro League match against Al Wasl.

Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter

Leaders Al Wasl will look to consolidate their position on the top of the table when they take on rivals Al Wahda in their Round 10 match of the Pro League on Friday.

Al Jazira and Ajman will kick-start the round with an early match at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, meanwhile Al Bataeh will take on Bani Yas simultaneously at Khalid Bin Mohammad stadium.

In the other late match of the day, Shabab Al Ahli will lock horns with Emirates at Rashid Stadium.

Al Wasl have put up a stellar performance in this season so far. After nine rounds of matches they are unbeaten. They have procured 23 points with seven wins and two draws.

Al Wasl coach Milos Milojevic predicted a tough match against Al Wahda but claimed to be confident of winning the game.

“We have achieved good results so far but we must remain humble as the journey is still long.

“We will meet tough opponents. They have been outstanding. They have shown a great performance across all the tournaments. They deserve more points and their position on the table does not justify their talent,” said Milojevic ahead of their match against Al Wahda.

“Once again I will stress that all the teams are very strong and there are no easy matches. We cannot take anything for granted, we respect all our opponents alike.

“I believe that to win this match, we must have full focus and give our 100 per cent. Any kind of complacency can cost us dear,” he said.

Al Wasl striker Alexis Perez, who was signed by the club earlier this year, also exuded confidence to win the match.

“We are going to face one of the best teams of the region. Al Wahda have fantastic players and they are a tough nut to crack. But our goal is to win the match and consolidate our position on the top of the leaderboard.

“If we feel pressure, it is a positive pressure, which propels us forward and fuels our quest for excellence. We represent a very high profile team, which has a lot of supporters across the globe,

“We must strive hard to live to the expectations of the fans and come up with a positive result to maintain our push for the trophy,” said Alexis.

Alexis has plied his trade with the Spanish giants like Villarreal and Atlético Junior to name a few. He is also a permanent feature of the Colombian national team.

Al Wahda are seven points adrift of Al Wasl and lying in the fourth spot in the standings. They are not only looking to climb up the standings but also looking to remain in the top three for a direct qualification in the AFC Champions League.

Al Wahda coach Arnaud Buitenweg ruled out that playing the top team will add to any additional pressure.

“Facing the leaders does not mean, we are under any additional pressure and we are ready to confront the strongest attack.

“We are prepared physically, technically, and even morally to play the match against Al Wasl. We will face a team that has a fierce attacking line that has enabled it to score 16 goals in the last 4 matches,” said Buitenweg.

“But we are able to defend this attack and also exploit their weaknesses. On the other hand, there must be a lot of pressure on them to continue their unbeaten streak. I have a lot of respect for them but I am here to win the match and I am confident of winning it,” he added.

Regarding the team’s absences, the coach confirmed the continued absence of Suhail Al Mansouri due to injury, in addition to Mohammed Al Shamsi, who is suffering from a health problem, expressing his hope that the two players will return to the team roster as soon as possible.

Considering the importance of the match, the coach added: “All matches have their own special meaning for me, and facing the leaders does not represent an additional challenge for the team, but a victory may help us to reduce the difference, and from this standpoint I call on our loyal fans to root for us and provide the players with moral support and energy,” he concluded

Abdullah Hamad Al Menhali, a player of Al-Wahda, appreciated the continuous encouragement from the fans at the Al Nahyan Stadium, which is their home ground.

Hamad said:  “We will play in our home stadium. It is important to look at this match as an opportunity to come and enjoy a football atmosphere full of excitement and challenge.

“I am sure that the Burgundy Coliseum is up to this challenge, and that the players will give their utmost energies to make their loyal fans happy by winning this game.”

Regarding the team’s readiness for the match, Abdullah Hamad explained: “The team members worked hard, under the leadership of coach Boitenweg to evaluate the weak points and resolve all the negative influences on the attacking and defensive sides. And the focus of the preparations is on facing Al Wasl in the past few days, expressing his confidence in making the team happy.”

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