Al Ain in no mood to rest on their laurels

Abu Dhabi: Coming at the back of clinching the President’s Cup, their second title of the season after being crowned UAE Pro League champions, Al Ain return to the AFC Champions League Round of 16 action against Qatar’s Al Duhail, oozing with confidence.

The action starts at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium today at 8:10pm.

The Boss, who won the title in 2003 and finished runners-up twice, sealed their place in the last 16 after finishing second in the group following an authoritative 4-1 victory away against Qatar’s Al Rayyan on Matchday Six.

Their opponent Al Duhail too are on a roll and will be keen to build on their six straight wins, which saw them finish at the top of Group B with 11 points. Doha-based club has also retained their Qatar Stars League title last month and also bagged the Qatar Cup.

Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic though is well aware the contest is going to be a fierce one, is not perturbed.

“I’m not worried to face any team in Asia because I train Al Ain,” said Mamic on the eve of the encounter.

“We are well aware that Duhail are strong competitors and have some good elements. We will have to dish out the same strong level of football, which we have been showing to achieve the best results. Certainly the goal of Al Ain during this encounter and the return leg will be to qualify for the quarter-finals,” added Mamic, who will be missing the services of Egyptian mid-fielder Hussein El Shahat and defender Mohanad Salem. The duo received their second yellow card of the group stage on Matchday Six.

“Yes, Shahat and Salem are out and we will need the other players to be at their best physically and mentally.

“Al Ain is currently living their best in what has been an exceptional season. We have quality of skilful players in the ranks and personally I’m not worried to face any team. I respect the aspirations of the rivals and all the teams are also aware of the value and position of Al Ain. We have to show strong character and play our style to achieve the desired result.”

Brazilian striker Caio, who also sounded positive ahead of the clash, said: “We will show the best we have in order to achieve the desired result and that will facilitate our task in the second leg. Our goal is clear and that is to qualify for the quarter-finals.

“The whole team has relished what we have achieved at the local level and that gives us the motivation and confidence to continue at the same level in the AFC Champions League.”