Sharjah players attend a training session ahead of their match against Al Dhafra.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Sharjah will look to maintain their unbeaten streak in the Arabian Gulf League (AGL), when they take on less-fancied Al Dhafra in their Round 11 match at the Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Stadium on Friday.
Sharjah are sitting at the top of the table with 24 points from 10 games. They have won seven and drawn three, stretching their unbeaten run to 10 matches on the trot. Sharjah coach Abdul Aziz Anbari predicted a tough game against Al Dhafra.
“Our preparations for the match are good and we hope to play a high standard game. Al Dhafra is one of the strongest teams and the game will not be that easy. We lost the captain Igor Cornado due to injury and that is the nature of the soccer game. Igor’s strong personality and his will power will help him in his recovery and return to the league,” said Anbari.
Exuding confidence in his players in the absence of Igor, Anbri said: “We have great trust in the team and will strive to complete the match successfully. Igor is an excellent and influential player but we have to accept that. We have a good variety of players and we will try to balance the attack and the defence.
“Ryan Mandez returned after an injury and we hope he will be well prepared for the game. We are applying an away match and we as a technical staff strive to come back with positive results,” concluded Anbari.
In another match of the day, Hatta will meet Ajman at the Rashid Bin Saeed Stadium. Both the teams are languishing at the bottom end of the table.
Ajman are at the 11th spot with nine points from 10 matches. They have won two, lost seven and drawn one game while Hatta are second from the last in the 14-team league with eight points. They have won two, lost six and drawn two of their matches.
Both Ajman and Hatta will look to climb out of the danger zone with a win. Ajman will look to end their seven-game winless run in the league. At the same time, Hatta will also bid to put their faltering campaign back on track by ending their three-game skid.
Hatta coach Christos Kontis described the match against Ajman as a tough one.
“Ajman match is important for us, like all the games in which we faced previous teams in the past weeks. We are playing with a team, which has same ambition as that of ours and that is to climb out of the drop zone to the middle of the table,” said Kontis.
“Ajman is a strong team, which has technical stability with the presence of a good coach. They have been there in the top flight for three consecutive seasons. With the good quality of players in the team, I presume it is going to be a tough match for us and we have to put up a good fight to get three points.
“The match is very important for us and we want all three points. Now it has become imperative to get back to the winning ways before it is too late as we have dropped points in the earlier games despite putting up a good performance,” added the Korean coach.
Kontis also pointed out that the suspension of frontline players will add to the problems and will make the match all the more difficult.
“The pressure of the back-to-back matches is not easy, especially when the team is not winning, regardless of physical or muscle fatigue. And the absence of frontline players due to the accumulation of yellow cards makes the job more difficult but we must deal with reality. This is the schedule of matches, and we must deal with this schedule,” he rued.
Commenting on the fitness of Abdullah Kazem, he said: “He trained with the team and seemed to have had a slight injury in the Bani Yas match. We will see if he is ready to face Ajman or not.
“Many sports analysts and critics talk about Hatta having possession skills but for us the most important thing is to start scoring the goals and end the losing skid. We are working on that currently. It shows the real talent of a player and his mental abilities. The pressure of matches every three days does not allow you to train even as a coach if you analyse the errors and problems,” he added.
Sharjah will take on Khorfakkan in a blockbuster round of 16 match of the President’s Cup at Saqr Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi Stadium in Khorfakkan at 16:35 pm on Saturday. In the other matches of the day, Al Ain will meet Ajman at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium
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