Al Ain boss Quique not thinking of AFC test just yet
Al Ain coach Quiche Sanchez Flores isn’t ready to think about who The Boss will be facing in group stages of the AFC Champions League, following the draw in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Al Ain, who are the only UAE club to win the competition when they lifted the trophy in 2003, were drawn alongside Saudi giants and two-time winners Al Ittihad and Iran’s Tractorsazi Tabriz in Group C. The fourth team will be the winners of the West play-off series two.
Sanchez Flores, who took over from Uruguayan Jorge Fossati in the Garden City in September, is trying to get his new team back playing to the same levels which brought them domestic league titles in 2012 and 2013.
“It’s a difficult tournament – the standard is very high,” said the Spaniard. “But for me the most important thing at the moment is not to think about this Champions League, but to concentrate on the team, to recuperate the team, so we can go into the competition in three months time with a good sensation.
“It’s important to start well in that competition well, to put in high performances, but I cannot think of how important the [Champions League] draw is now. I have to think present and focus on the league.”
Current leaders of the Arabian Gulf League Al Ahli will also face former champions after they were drawn in Group D with 2011 winners Al Sadd of Qatar, Saudi club Al Hilal and Iran’s Sepahan.
Al Jazira, who finished third in the UAE league last season, find themselves in Group A alongside Iranian champions Esteghlal, Qatari club Al Rayyan and Saudi side Al Shabab.
Bani Yas are yet to qualify, but assuming the Abu Dhabi club successfully negotiate their way through the preliminaries, will be placed in Group B with Saudi champions Al Fateh, Iran’s Foolas Khuzestan and Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan.