Al-Ain told to show ‘fight’ against Saudi giants Al-Hilal in AFC Champions League opener

Al-Ain will hope to reproduce the form that saw them reach the FIFA Club World Cup final in December. (Reuters)
Updated 04 March 2019
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Al-Ain told to show ‘fight’ against Saudi giants Al-Hilal in AFC Champions League opener

  • New boss Garrido calls on side to show passion in huge clash against Riyadh giants.
  • Al-Ain to come face-to-face with former boss Zoran Mamic who left UAE side to coach Al-Hilal last month.

LONDON: Juan Carlos Garrido has called on Al-Ain to show some fighting spirit when they face Al-Hilal in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
The UAE club face the Saudi Arabian giants at home in their Group C opener knowing how important it is to get off to a good start. Having only been in the Al-Ain hot seat for two weeks Garrido is aware that all eyes will be on him in his first “big” match as coach of “the Boss” and wants his players to prove they have the backbone to battle hard against their Saudi rivals.
“It is a very special game. The AFC Champions League with two big clubs,” the Spaniard said.
“These are the kind of games everyone wants to be part of, be they a fan, a coach or a player. The motivation is always high for these matches.
“We need 11 fighters, that is the important thing for this match. The fighting spirit is more important than tactics, than techniques, than the formation. The big thing is we need 11 fighters on the pitch against Al-Hilal, that is what our history and our fans demand of us.
“That is what I try to do all my life and that is what our players need to focus on when they face Al-Hilal.”
It has not been an easy introduction to life as Al-Ain coach for Garrido. Defeat in the side’s last league game — a 2-0 defeat to Shabab Al-Ahli — did little to suggest they can beat Al-Hilal. The performance was lifeless and left them eight points behind table-topping Sharjah in the UAE Pro-League.
As if that was not enough they face an Al-Hilal side for whom the AFC Champions League is the main focus. Without a continental title since 2000 the Riyadh club have splashed the cash in a bid to end that drought. They boast ex-France striker Bafetimbi Gomis and former Italy international Sebastian Giovinco, and have lost just once in 22 Saudi Pro League matches this season. The side have also not been affected by the recent change in the dugout with the sacked Jorge Jesus replaced by Zoran Mamic. Mamic has allowed Al-Hilal to play a more attacking game and, to add spice to tonight’s encounter, was poached from Al-Ain.
Garrido, however, does not think that will have too much of a bearing on the result.
“The coach knows the players and they know him so it is important our players do a good job and if we all work together we can get the three points,” Garrido said.
“I have been in charge for two games so far and after each one of course I sit down and come up with concussions of how to improve the team. But this is very different. It is a different competition, it is a top competition and I am 100 percent sure that the players will play with passion and commitment.”


Brazil jeered again after 0-0 draw against Venezuela

Updated 20 June 2019
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Brazil jeered again after 0-0 draw against Venezuela

  • Brazil had two goals reversed by video review because of offside calls

SALVADOR: Brazil followed a lackluster win over Bolivia with a scoreless draw against Venezuela in the Copa America on Tuesday, prompting more jeers from local fans.

Brazil had two goals reversed by video review because of offside calls, one by Gabriel Jesus early in the second half and another by Philippe Coutinho near the end of the match.

Brazil played better than they did in the opener against Bolivia, but were not able to break through the stout Venezuelan defense at the Arena Fonte Nova. Despite the setback, the hosts stayed at the top of Group A with four points, tied with Peru, which earlier Tuesday defeated Bolivia 3-1 in Rio de Janeiro. Venezuela, which opened with a 0-0 draw against Peru, has two points.

The group will be decided on Saturday with Brazil facing Peru in Sao Paulo and Venezuela taking on Bolivia in Belo Horizonte. The top two teams in each group advance to the next round, along with the two best third-place finishers.

Brazil thought they had scored with substitute Gabriel Jesus shortly after halftime, but the goal was disallowed after a review showed that Roberto Firmino, who made the pass to the Manchester City striker, was offside when the ball deflected off a Venezuela defender. The Brazilians complained, arguing that it was a pass — not a deflection — by the defender.

Coutinho’s goal with about five minutes left in regulation was reversed because his close-range shot deflected off Firmino, who was in an offside position in front of the net. The goal would have stood had the ball not touched the Liverpool forward.

Firmino had a goal disallowed late in the first half for pulling a defender inside the area before he scored.

Brazil’s first goal in the 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday had come from a penalty awarded by video review.

The team had been jeered by fans in Sao Paulo after a lackluster first half against the Bolivians, but this time the crowd of nearly 42,000 fans in Salvador started booing closer to the end of the match at the Arena Fonte Nova. They also chanted “ole, ole” as the Venezuelans exchanged passes near the end.

Many had also jeered coach Tite when he replaced Casemiro by defensive midfielder Fernandinho instead of an attacking player.

It was Venezuela which had the best scoring opportunity in the first half with a close-range header by striker Salomon Rondon that missed just wide.

Brazil nearly got the winner in second-half stoppage time with a header by Fernandinho that nearly found the far corner.

Brazil are seeking a ninth Copa America title. They won the tournament all four previous times it hosted the event, the last time in 1989.

Venezuela’s best Copa finish was a fourth place in 2011.