Al Ain seek fresh start as new season gets under way today

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Players of Al Ain Attends a practice session. Courtsey: Twitter

Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter

The defending champions Al Ain will begin their title defence against Ajman as the new Adnoc Pro League season explodes into action on Friday.

The holders have bolstered the squad with quite a few signings ahead of the new season. Among the new recruits, the signing of Andriy Yarmolenko on a one-year deal made the headlines.

He has played for the top European clubs like English Premier League’s West Ham and German League’s Borussia Dortmund. The winger is all set to help Al Ain in their title defence.

Al Ain coach Serhiy Rebrov said they will not revel in the past after winning two trophies and are looking forward to the new season and their focus is on the Ajman match.

“It was nice to win two silverware last season, we have enjoyed the success. But now it is a new season and we ae looking forward to get the season off to a winning start with a victory against Ajman,” said the coach in their pre-match press conference, posted on club’s social media accounts.

Al Ain won the Pro League Cup as they defeated Shabab Al Ahli and also clinched the Pro League title, finishing the season with 65 points.

“It is a different season and we have to move forward. We have to take advantage of our experience that we have and begin the season with confidence. We should be wary of the fact that it is a new beginning and we are starting from the scratches.

“I want to stress once again that we played well last season and we deserved to win all the trophies, medals and titles, but now we are starting afresh in a new season. We have to show how serious we are.”

Al Ain are likely to get the fiercest competition from Al Jazira and Sharjah. The trio have dominated the Pro League in the last few years.

Both Sharjah and Al Jazira kept hot on the heels of Al Ain throughout the season.

He also urged the players to maintain the momentum and not get carried away by the success of the last season. A drop in the enthusiasm can result in losing everything what they achieved.

“Ajman are a strong side and they deserve to be in the top flight. They have worked hard to remain in the league and their coach deserves to be among the top three coaches of the country,” he added.

“We should focus on the match and on the factors which affect the match such as weather and other conditions. It is indeed difficult to play for 90 minutes in such high temperature,” he concluded.

In the other match of the day, Ittihad Kalba will take on newly-promoted Al Bataeh at the Kalba Stadium. Kalba finished the season on 11th spot with 28 points one place above Al Dhafra who accumulated 24 points and managed to remain afloat.

While Al Orooba and Emirates were relegated. The fight for the relegation had gone down to the wire between Al Orooba and Al Dhafra.

Had Al Dhafra lost the match against Al Orooba, they would have finished the season on 21 points along with Al Orooba and in that case the latter would remain afloat in the top flight.

In the two late matches of the Day 1 of the new season, Bani Yas will meet Khorfakkan at their home ground while Al Wahda will face off with Al Wasl in the city derby at the Zabeel Stadium.

Bani Yas have also added tooth to their attack ahead of the new season with signing of the Brazilian striker Rafael Rafael Elias.

On the signing of the new playmaker from Brazil, Bani Yas coach said: “Increasing the number of the foreign players will contribute to the development of the league. It will generate a heathy competition and bring the experience and expertise of the foreign players.

“We are looking forward to a winning start to the season and we are aware of the fact that Khorfakkan are a strong team. We are hoping for a tough match against them,” he added.

Al Wasl coach Juan Antonio Pizzi apprised about the preparation of the team.

“We are prepared well to take up the new challenge in the new season. We are seeking a positive start to the season as it sets the tone for the rest of the season,” said Pizzi.

“We are also expecting the fans to come in big number to cheer for us. Their support is very important and we will try to live up to the expectations of the fans,” he concluded.

 

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