On Tour: van’t Schip on Al Jazira clash


Melbourne City FC Head Coach John van’t Schip believes Al Jazira will provide a perfect mid-season test for his side in Abu Dhabi.

Melbourne City FC face the UAE Arabian Gulf League outfit on Sunday evening at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in the first of two friendlies during the 12-day camp.

After settling into the team’s training facility at New York University’s Abu Dhabi Campus, van’t Schip said he was pleased with his team’s first two sessions ahead of the match.

“The conditions are good, we are at the New York University in Abu Dhabi and it’s brand new, the pitches are good, the dressing rooms and the weather of course [are also good], so it is a perfect way to prepare ourselves,” van’t Schip said.

Al Jazira will pose a difficult opponent for van’t Schip’s side with the Dutch Head Coach suggesting the home team’s visa players will be particularly influential, including the league’s top goal scorer – Montenegro international striker Mirko Vučinić.

“Al Jazira is one of the better teams [in the Gulf League] and the most famous team here in Abu Dhabi and they have some good players. Vucinic is a well-known striker who played for Roma and Juventus just over a year ago and he is up front in attack.

“They also have a good Argentinean midfielder [Manuel] Lanzini, who is a young talented player and they have a Brazilian midfield player [Jucilei] who has given them a lot of strength.

“Around that they have built a good squad with internationals from the UAE, so it is good team; they have scored a lot of goals and it’s a good test for us to play against them.” 

van’t Schip said he hoped he could field a strong, fit side for the challenge.

“Today was the second session and yesterday, coming from the long flight we had a light session,” van’t Schip said.

“Saturday was a good session and hopefully tomorrow [Sunday] we can be a bit more rested from the flight and the jet lag to play a decent game against Al Jazira.”