Marcel Keizer speaks during a press conference head of their AGL match against Al Wahda.
Mohammad Abdullah, Sports Reporter
Star striker Ali Mabkhout’s injury scare added to the Al Jazira’s woes as the capital club is already battling with fitness issues to some of their biggest stars.
The derby clash between the capital clubs Al Wahda and Al Jazira headlines the ninth round fixtures on Friday. But the blockbuster match has been overshadowed by Mabkhout’s injury, which might rule him out of the match.
Al Jazira are in the third spot with 17 points and can move to second alongside Al Nasr, who defeated Fujairah 3-2 earlier in the evening to bag three important points and consolidate their position.
Al Jazira coach Marcel Keizer admitted that he will have to wait until the last hours before the derby game against city-rivals Al Wahda before taking any decisions about including or omitting Mabkhout, who has some minor fitness issues.
He also asserted that he will not hesitate in fielding the academy graduates in first team matches if needed.
“Ali was struggling a little bit before Al Dhafra game and we were forced to substitute him in the second half, and now we will wait until the last hours before the game and to see how he feels before we decide on starting him or not.
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“Ali’s value to the team is tremendous, and he is a very important and decisive player, and this is why we will be careful with him because the plan is to keep him fit and ready for the whole season,” in formed the coach.
Speaking about the availability of Omar Abdulrehman and Imoh Ezekiel, he said: “Amoory and Ezekiel will miss the derby, but the others are fine and available for selection. We have small group of players, and injuries will always make things difficult for us.”
Omar and Ezekiel’s injuries are a big blow for the Pride of Abu Dhabi.
Ezekiel is a globe-trotting player and has played in some of the biggest European leagues. Je joined Al Jazira just two months back. “Luckily the team in the academy is doing an outstanding job with the young players, and I will not hesitate in playing anyone of them because they have my trust and confidence”, the manager added.
“It’s another game with three points to fight for, but obviously it’s different because it’s a derby, and derbies are always special to the players and fans.
“It will be intense with some physical presence, but we will try to be calm and focused all the time, and we will commit to our own playing style, while being ready to make any necessary changes and do whatever it takes to win the three points.”
The 33-year-old has been with Al Jazira since 2004 and has made 431 appearances for the club in the local competitions, and won the UAE President Cup 3 times, the Arabian Gulf League 2 times, the UAE Confederation Cup and the Arabian Gulf Cup.
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