Al Ain coach Zlatko Dalic says there is no need to press the panic button following the unavailability of star striker Asamoah Gyan ahead of their crucial Asian Champions League clash with Pakhtakor on Wednesday.
The UAE side, who are top of the Arabian Gulf League, miss Asamoah Gyan and Omar Abdulrahman for the trip to Tashkent, with both players remaining in the Garden City as they recover from injury and an infection, respectively.
The duo’s absence constitutes a blow to Al Ain’s chances, given Abdulrahman is considered his team’s chief creator, while Gyan top-scored in the tournament last season to spearhead their run to the semi-finals, netting 12 goals.
Al Ain have yet to register a victory in this season’s competition, following an opening-day draw with Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab at their Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, and the point gleaned at Iran’s Naft Tehran earlier this month.
However, coach Zlatko Dalic says there is little need to panic, with the Croat setting the target of two wins from their remaining two home fixtures and a point, at least, from today’s trip to Tashkent. Pakhtakor represent tough opposition, though, having taken four points from a possible six to head Group B.
“It’s very important not to lose in the group stage and nine points would be enough to qualify to the next stage of the competition,” said Dalic, who last year guided Al Ain to the semi-finals. “Currently, we have two points from two games, but we have the opportunity to take six points on our own pitch.
“We have good information on Pakhtakor, who have a number of skilful players, but we came to Tashkent to provide an outstanding performance consistent with Al Ain and to achieve victory.”
With Gyan and Abdulrahman unavailable, even greater responsibility falls on the shoulders of Miroslav Stoch. In his debut season at Al Ain, the attacking midfielder has managed to score 11 goals in all competitions.
“Our goal is clear,” he said. “We are here to provide a performance befitting of the name and reputation of Al Ain, and to return to the UAE with a positive outcome. We face one of the teams challenging for the top of the group. We promise to show the best we have on the pitch. We are confident in our ability to achieve the desired result.”
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