(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Teams eye group c lead to take advantage of playing at home in knockouts
al ain players celebrate their victory against tractorsazi tabriz (iran) in the afc champions league match in abu dhabi. — kt file
al ittihad’s head coach khalid al koroni admitted that their clash against al ain in the final round of the afc champions league group stage on tuesday at the hazza bin zayed staium is not going to be easy at all.
speaking to newsmen at the khalifa bin zayed stadium at al ain city the saudi club’s coach said that although the two sides were already through but the battle for the lead of group c will be very tough in order to take advantage of playing at home in the knockout stage. “my plan is to rest some of the key players to avoid any future fatigue but still we are going to play a big game. but this must not be taken as saying we are going to field our second eleven. no not at all” he added.
“i have every respect for our hosts as one of the best football sides in the region and there’s no intention to take the risk of playing with the reserve lineup” he clarified.
“i will try to checkout all my options in order to come up with the best possible formation to avoid any possible collapse and at the same time achieve the best result” he said. regarding the status of their player ahmed al faridi al koroni said: “my top priority is to ensure the required harmony. al faridi is one of my best options.”
speaking about the pressure of playing against a big crowd at the hazza bin zayed stadium al koroni said he’s confident that their players know how to absorb similar pressure from their past experience when they play away from home.
“all what i hope is to see my players in their day and show the best of them” he said. “when i took over the players were too much demotivated but everything has changed to the better” he said. al ain croatian head coach zlatco dalic said they have achieved the most important part of their job by advancing to the second stage of the afc champions league and they are looking forward to enhance their lead in group c.
“we need to finish at the top of the group to play at home in the knockout stage” he said. “but more importantly we will be playing in the president cup final against al ahli after only four days thereafter. so we have to use the home advantage to beat al ittihad. i know against whom we will be playing and al ittihad have good players who play attacking football. they are fast talented and tactically mature” he said.
dalic urged the faithful fans to pack the stadium to cheer the players hoping that they will be able to play a big game to delight their fans. “we have to be careful. the players are in their best and they have every chance to continue their winning streak. but the main problem we will play seven tough games in 25 days i.e. one match in every three or four days which is a tough task and that’s why i would like to avoid playing away in the only match in the knockout stage” he said.
the afc has assigned korean officials for the al ain match against ittihad. they are international referee kim sang youn kowanghilo (first assistant referee) kang do jon (second assistant referee) kin dyoung (fourth referee) xiolng (match commissioner) and ismail ibrahi (referees assessor).