RIYADH: Igor Biscan says it will be strictly business when he faces former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard in a fascinating clash in the Roshn Saudi League.
Biscan, appointed Al-Shabab manager in mid-October, goes head-to-head in a home game against Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq on Thursday night. The two played together at Anfield for five years, helping the English club to a memorable Champions League triumph in 2005.
Al-Shabab, currently 12th in the table, go into Thursday’s game after three matches without a win. Al-Ettifaq, five places above them, are four league games without victory.
Biscan said: “It’s a big, important game for us because of the points, first and foremost. The other things are always interesting — seeing a former teammate, somebody like Steven — but we will not have too much time to enjoy ourselves.
“We’re not really in a position to think about anything else apart from getting as many points as we can as soon as we can. They have many more points than us in the table, but they are also not in a great period — in the last few games they have lost or didn’t win.”
Biscan was critical of his team following a 2-1 home loss to Al-Taawoun last weekend. Al-Shabab led 1-0 at the interval through a cheeky Panenka penalty by Yannick Carrasco that clipped the underside of the bar. But “a different team came out of the dressing room for the second half,” and Al-Taawoun came back strongly to run out deserved winners.
Speaking about Al-Ettifaq, Biscan added: “They’re a tough team to play against and we need to prepare ourselves not only for one half, but for 90-plus minutes. That’s the only way we can win any game in the future.”
Gerrard also criticized his side after their recent loss. Al-Ettifaq went down 1-0 at Al-Okhdood, who climbed to 15th in the 18-team league.
Gerrard said: “I apologize to our fans. The performance was far from what we intended.”
Al-Shabab versus Al-Ettifaq kicks off on Thursday at 9 p.m. Saudi time at Al-Shabab’s stadium in Riyadh.