Zoran Mamic warns Al-Ain they face tough task against River Plate in FIFA Club World Cup semifinal

El-Shahat scores the second in Al-Ain's 3-0 quarterfinal clash against Tunisian outfit, Esperance de Tunis. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Zoran Mamic warns Al-Ain they face tough task against River Plate in FIFA Club World Cup semifinal

  • UAE side to face Argentine giants in last-four clash on home ground on Tuesday.
  • Winner likely to play Real Madrid in the final.

LONDON: Al-Ain have been told they have to turn up with their A-game against River Plate tomorrow or they can forget about a dream final against Real Madrid in the FIFA Club World Cup.
That is the message from the side’s coach Zoran Mamic, who saw “The Boss” beat Esperance Sportive de Tunis 3-0 on Saturday to book their semifinal spot against the Argentine giants.
Goals from Mohamed Ahmed, Hussein El-Shahat and Bandar Mohammed gave the hosts an emphatic victory over the African champions at their Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.
But Mamic is only too aware that beating the champions of Tunisia is one thing, taking on the Copa Libertadores winners is of another proportion entirely.
“River one of the biggest teams in the world, with a great history and we are playing against them in the semifinal of the FIFA Club World Cup, but we have to enjoy it, we have to be proud and we have to make it difficult for River,” the Croatian said.
“We watched the games against Boca and they are very very strong, we just have to be better to survive this game.”
In Al-Ain’s favor, bar playing at home, is the fact that Mamic has a good knowledge of River and Argentine football, and he, like many football fans around the world, was a keen spectator of the Copa Libertadores final when the Buenos Aires side beat their arch-rivals Boca Juniors.
“It’s a great story for me, before I became a coach I worked as a sporting director for Dynamo Zagreb and I would travel to watch players. My first time in Argentina, first match was Boca vs. River, that was maybe 10-12 years ago,” Mamic revealed.
However, anyone thinking Al-Ain will be overawed by their opponents and the occasion had better think again.
“(River’s Marcelo Gallardo) is a great coach, they have done very well and he obviously knows how to talk to his players, but they have to respect us, we have shown we can play good football. I’m sure it will be an interesting game and I hope the stadium will be full,” Mamic said. “I also hope some Argentinian fans come because they create a good atmosphere. River had a great season, they won the Copa, the coach from River Plate cannot be bad.”
Al-Ain very nearly did not make it to the quarterfinals against Esperance, let alone the last-four clash against River. 3-0 down in their opening match against Team Wellington, a side made up of amateur players, the hosts looked like they were heading for an embarrassing early exit. A remarkable comeback, however, that saw Marcus Berg equalize with just five minutes left, was completed with a 4-3 win on penalties.
“The Wellington game was a difficult one, I didn’t want there to be pressure in that match, I wanted them to enjoy it but there was pressure because everyone was saying Wellington wasn’t a strong team and we should win easily and I think we felt that pressure. Wellington started, scored perfect goals and we were shocked,” Mamic said. “Thankfully we found a way to turn things round.”
Swedish international Berg will be a key man for Al-Ain tomorrow despite suffering with a virus over the past few days. Mamic is hopeful he will be back to 100 percent and able to start against River.
“For these past four days he has been really struggling with fever and today is the first day he has been feeling better, hopefully in the next three days he will recover to start the River game,” Mamic said.
There is little doubt “The Boss” will need Berg to be fit and at his best if they are to pull off a shock and beat the South American champions. Also key could be the Al-Ain fans packed into the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium. Mamic hopes they can act as a 12th player.
“I wanted to thank our fans for their great support and making a great ambience in the stadium, it’s a pleasure to play under these conditions, a pleasure for the players, a pleasure for the coaching staff and I’m sure it will be a good game,” Mamic said.
“Against River we most be focused, motivated which won’t be a problem, River are favorites but favorites don’t always win.”


Warner ton against Bangladesh sends Australia top of World Cup table

Updated 31 min 30 sec ago
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Warner ton against Bangladesh sends Australia top of World Cup table

  • Warner, the highest run-scorer of the tournament, with 447 runs, is back to his best for Australia after completing a 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa
  • Mushfiqur Rahim hit a fine 102 not out but the wicket-keeper’s entertaining fifth-wicket stand of 127 with Mahmudullah (69) came too late to alter the course of the match

NOTTINGHAM: David Warner’s century paved the way for Australia to beat Bangladesh by 48 runs at Trent Bridge on Thursday as the reigning champions went top of the World Cup table.
Warner made Bangladesh pay for dropping him on 10 with an innings of 166 — the left-handed opener’s second century of the World Cup — in a total of 381-5.
Bangladesh, needing to surpass Ireland’s World Cup record chase of 329-7 against England in 2011, struggled to keep up with the required run-rate.
Mushfiqur Rahim hit a fine 102 not out but the wicket-keeper’s entertaining fifth-wicket stand of 127 with Mahmudullah (69) came too late to alter the course of the match as Bangladesh finished on 333-8 after their 50 overs.
Defeat left them in fifth place, with only the top four from the 10-team round-robin group stage qualifying for the semifinals.
“It’s a great achievement but for us it’s about getting these two points and moving on to Lord’s,” said man-of-the-match Warner.
“You’ve got to adapt and it’s about momentum, so far things are working well,” he added. “It was a tad slow, the wicket, but it was a grind for the bowlers, it was very difficult for the bowlers.”
The 32-year-old Warner, the highest run-scorer of the tournament, with 447 runs, is back to his devastating best for Australia after completing a 12-month ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
He received solid support from Australia captain Aaron Finch (53) and Usman Khawaja (89).
Soumya Sarkar took 3-58 from eight overs but, by the time the sixth bowler came on, Australia had already benefited from plenty of wayward deliveries from an attack missing paceman Mohammad Saifuddin, who was ruled out with a back spasm.
Finch, fresh from his 153 in a win over Sri Lanka, set the tone by launching Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza — the sole survivor on either side from the Tigers’ shock 2005 ODI victory over Australia in Cardiff — for six over cover.
But the opener was out soon after completing his eighth fifty in 11 ODI innings when he guided a rising Soumya delivery to Rubel Hossain at short third man.
An increasingly fluent Warner eventually fell to the same combination after facing 147 balls, hitting 14 fours and five sixes.
Khawaja fell in sight of a hundred when he bottom-eged a pull off Soumya and Mushfiqur dived forward to hold a good catch.
Trent Bridge has twice seen England set a record innings score in a one-day international, including the current mark of 481-6 against Australia last year.
Bangladesh did not help their own cause when a chaotic mix-up between Tamim Iqbal and Soumya saw the latter run out by Finch’s direct hit from mid-on.
Shakib Al Hasan, fresh from his match-winning century against the West Indies, then fell for 41 when he chipped a Marcus Stoinis slower ball to Warner at mid-off.
Tamim played on to Mitchell Starc for 62 and the left-arm fast bowler’s first ball to Liton Das saw the new batsman struck on the helmet by a bouncer but he batted on after receiving on-field treatment.
Das was eventually lbw to leg-spinner Adam Zampa but the experienced Mushfiqur continued to give the massed ranks of Bangladesh fans in the crowd plenty to cheer.
There were more roars of approval when Mahmudullah launched Zampa for a 95-meter straight six before he holed out.
And the crowd rose to their feet when Mushfiqur completed his seventh ODI century, off 95 balls including nine fours and a six.