Ahli keen to avenge cup loss to Al Ain
Olaroiu: Rivalry is ‘most beautiful’ tie
DUBAI // Cosmin Olaroiu said his Al Ahli players can use the sense of injustice from this week’s President’s Cup defeat to Al Ain as motivation when the two sides meet in the crucial Arabian Gulf League tonight.
The UAE champions, fourth in the table, lost 3-1 to their rivals on Monday when a number of contentious decisions went against them. They now take on Al Ain in the rescheduled fixture from Round 3 knowing a positive result at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium is required to keep pace with clubs above them.
Ahli are one place and one point behind Al Ain, who still have two games in hand.
Al Jazira and Al Wasl, the joint leaders as the halfway stage comes to a close, are a farther three points better off.
Asked if his team can use the hurt of the cup defeat to their advantage, Olaroiu, who also called for a stronger performance from the officials, said: “What do you think? That these players don’t see what’s happening, don’t realise what’s happening and they don’t feel what’s happening?
“The problem is they train, they run, they do whatever they can. We all make mistakes. We cannot say we’re perfect. We have problems, but even with this, I don’t think it was possible to lose. But the problem is, and my hope is that we will not, lose confidence.
“They are frustrated. Even I could not talk to them after the game because they were so frustrated they were crying. This can affect their morale.
“We know exactly how they’re going to play, exactly what to expect from them. And we prepare this in training. We know almost everything.
“But you lose and afterwards everyone says you don’t deserve this. Yes, we don’t deserve this, but we lost.”
Olaroiu said the most important issue is finding 10 fully fit players. Ahli are without the suspended Everton Ribeiro and the injured Rodrigo Lima among other concerns.
Olaroiu called for his team to show their talent against Al Ain in what he said is “the most beautiful game” in UAE football, but dismissed the idea that Ahli’s chances of retaining their title will be extinguished if they lose.
“It is very difficult to say it is. Many people try to say things to put pressure. Nobody can say now when the first part of the league finishes that everything is decided or not.”
Meanwhile, Al Ain manager Zlatko Dalic said: “We are well aware that our task is not easy, especially since Ahli are looking to compensate for the loss and the cup exit to us.
“We will fight to get three points and reach 29 points to strengthen our position in the table.”