Al Jazira coach Damien Hertog speaks during a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Supplied photo
ABU DHABI: Al Jazira head coach Damien Hertog believes the club’s supporters can inspire his players even more when they take on Al Ain in the Abu Dhabi derby on Wednesday night.
Al Jazira welcome second-placed and reigning Arabian Gulf League champions Al Ain to Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium with the hosts aiming to bounce back following last week’s 3-2 defeat to Arabian Gulf League leaders Sharjah.
With only four points separating both sides, Hertog expects another close encounter against their rivals and believes the home fans can play a vital role by being their ‘12th man’.
“Our home fans were disappointed by the result against Sharjah but we want to amend that by producing a winning performance at our own stadium,” Hertog said during his pre-match press conference.
“Our home fans are fantastic and they will be very important for this match especially as it’s an Abu Dhabi derby.
“Football is a team sport meaning that fans, players and coaches are in it together. We are all happy when we win but we are also sad when we lose.
“Our fans can give us an extra boost which will certainly help inspire my players even more to win the game. We all want to make them happy and proud and getting the victory in this Abu Dhabi derby is something that we are aiming for.”
He added: “Sharjah was a tough opponent, but Al Ain will be bigger test as they are the defending champions.”
Al Jazira will be without five players including defender Fares Juma (suspension) and attacking midfielder Leonardo (injured). However, Hertog believes there’s plenty of quality at his disposal that can help cause Al Ain problems.
“There will always be suspensions and injuries but Al Jazira have a strong talented squad and not just 11 players. These absences are an opportunity for other players to step up and show their quality and help the team,” he said.
Meanwhile, midfielder Abdullah Ramadan believes his team-mates will give everything they’ve got to beat Al Ain.
“It will be a tough match against Al Ain,” he said. “We have put the Sharjah defeat behind us, and we know we have to play our best football against Al Ain which I’m sure we will do.”
Meanwhile, Al Ain coach Juan Carlos Garrido wants his team to keep the winning momentum going to fancy their chances.
“Al Ain has entered a very important stage of the current football season and it is certain that all the next results will determine the team’s position in the competition,” said Garrido ahead of his side’s clash against the Pride of Abu Dhabi.
“It is very important for all team members to the management, technical staff and players to stay focused so that will do our best to win and continue to have strong results in the coming stages,” added Garrido, who felt Al Jazira will be a strong test in their backyard.
“I saw Al Jazira against Sharjah and the match confirmed that our competitors have good players and they are led by a great coach in Hertog, but we look forward to winning. I have spent just a short time with my team. But I felt there is a strong desire from all players in the team to yield positive results and bring happiness to their fans.”
Al Jazira Club have a rich and successful history, winning the Federation Cup in 2006, The Gulf Clubs Championship in 2007, as well as the Etisalat Cup in 2009-2010. Al Jazira also clinched the Arabian Gulf League in 2011 and repeated the feat in 2017.
Their three President’s Cup successes were achieved in 2011, 2012 and 2016, while they also finished fourth in the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup.
Kodjo Laba’s fourth goal of the campaign secured the three points for Al Ain in a 2-1 win against Hatta at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Matchweek 4 of the Arabian Gulf League on Saturday.
Manchester City brushed aside in-form Crystal Palace 2-0 on Saturday to narrow the gap to Premier League leaders Liverpool to five points. The defending champions travelled to London with questions over their ability to sustain a title challenge