Al Jazira look to maintain winning momentum as Ajman eye victory - GulfToday

Al Jazira look to maintain winning momentum as Ajman eye victory


Al Jazira new-signing Abdoulay Diaby poses with club officials during an unveiling ceremony. Courtesy: Twitter

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter

Defending champions Al Jazira will look to extend their winning streak with a victory over Ittihad Kalba in the second round match of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL).

Al Jazira romped to a comfortable 2-0 win against Al Dhafra in their opening match of the season. But they are sitting at the fourth spot in the standings due to goal difference.

Al Jazira manager Marcel Keizer said he is wary of Kalba despite their loss in the opening round match against Sharjah. Kalba were defeated by Sharjah 1-0 in their season opener.

“Kalba played very well in their first game of the new season, but they lost to Sharjah due to a late strike by their opponents,” said Keizer.

“They were physically strong and very dangerous in their attack against Sharjah. We expect a tough game against them but we are well prepared for the challenge,” added Keizer.

The coach also confirmed that the new player Abdoulay Diaby will miss the trip to Kalba. Al Jazira have completed the signing of Malian’s Diaby on a two-year contract.

“Diaby is not yet physically fit to feature in his first official match. Kalba are a strong team and we cannot take any chances against them as they are also very dangerous,” he added.

“He joined us two days back. Coming off not so good pre-season, we will wait for his fitness during the next two weeks so he can be ready for Al Nasr game in the next week,” added Kiezer.

“It is always good to start the new season with full-strength squad and four foreign players, but let’s not forget that we won the league last season after we started with just two foreigners only.

“I don’t think that the presence of four foreign players make a team strong. We need to have a strong squad not just good players,” he stressed.

The Malian forward has already played under Keizer at a Portugal club, where they won the domestic title together. The reunion is likely to recreate the same magic.

Diaby has represented his country on 17 occasions and scored five goals. He has also played for a number of top European clubs, which includes French giants Lille.

“We will miss the suspended duo Khalfan Mubarak and Bruno Conceicao against Kalba,” informed the coach, who steered Al Jazira to their third AGL title last year.

Meanwhile, Ajman will look to consolidate their position at the second spot when they face Shabab Al Ahli in their second round match on Wednesday.

Ajman stunned Al Nasr in their season opener with a facile 3-0 win to move to the second spot in the standings with three points.

The opening round saw seven teams procuring a victory, with no game ending in a draw but Ajman occupy the second spot due to a better goal difference.

Ajman had to wait till the last round in the last season to remain afloat and ended the season at the bottom half.

Shabab Al Ahli, who are also coming into the match on the back of a win, will also look to keep their momentum going in the second match.

Shabab Al Ahli also saw a turn-around in fortunes under the coach Mahdi Ali. They lifted three trophies under Ali since last December.

They won the Super Cup to be followed by Arabian Gulf Cup and finishing the season with the President Cup. Since Ali took over, the Dubai club exuded a remarkable turnaround and lost just three times in 31 matches. All three defeats came in continental competition.

They also went on to finish third in the league, securing a berth in the ACL. Ali’s tuning with Shabab Al Ahli is no secret.

They will look to better their third-place finish by clinching the title under the talismanic coach, who has spent 15 years of career at the club as player and coach combined together. They will be one of the strongest contenders for the title.

Al Ain and Emirates will face off at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in a a late fixture, which will see a revamped Al Ain eye their second win after kicking off their season with a 3-1 victory over Khorfakkan.

Meanwhile, newly-promoted Emirates will seek their a positive result after they were defeated by Shabab Al Ahli in the opening round.

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