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Al Nasr manager Benat San Jose is very proud to face the Arsenal at the official opening of the Al Maktoum stadium

Al Nasr's manager, Benat San Jose, said Tuesday's high-profile friendly against Arsenal represents a moment of pride in the club's history – while he is not looking forward to putting the head to fellow Basque Unai Emery.

The Dubai team will entertain their Premier League counterparts this week in a game at the official opening of Al Maktoum Stadium. The land, originally inaugurated in 1981, underwent a significant renewal last year in view of the January Asia Cup.

The Arsenal, fourth in the UK top flight with eight games remaining, is currently in the emirate in a hot climate training camp. They will face Nasr for the second time, with the first meeting between the two clubs arriving at another friendly, in 1976.

"We are very proud to play against one of the best teams in the world like Arsenal," San Jose said.

"And, even as a coach, I am very proud that this match is taking place in Al Nasr, because it shows what we are a great club and what great administration we have that can bring one of these clubs to play against us.

"And I think this beautiful and wonderful stadium deserves to have a game like this."

San Jose, 39, understands the challenge that awaits his part. Nasr fought from his appointment in December and did not win in his seven games in charge. With nine rounds remaining in the Arabian Gulf League, the three-time UAE champions languish in eleventh position.

The Arsenal, meanwhile, is chasing a place in the Uefa Champions League next place, while next month they will compete for the Europa League quarter-finals.

"I want to make our fans proud of our team," San Jose said. "We know we are playing against an important team with fantastic players, but we have to show that we also do a good job. We must be very good tactically and our goal is to try to play good football. We must try to complicate things for ; Arsenal as much as possible and then we'll see.

"We have a game on March 30th in the league, the competition that is our absolute goal, so we have to find the right balance when we use the players against the Arsenal. We are improving step by step. But, against the Arsenal , we will do our best and I am sure that the players will do their best.

"I expect that in the first place, the fans will have fun. Because certainly many fans of Al Nast will come, but there will also be fans of the Arsenal and football fans. It will be a beautiful scenery and atmosphere."

San Jose is particularly excited about the opportunity to face Emery. The two never met despite both having been from the Basque country in Spain, and each of them was hired by Real Sociedad in San Sebastian.

Emery, 47, started his professional career there. Last summer, he replaced Arsene Wenger in the Arsenal game after 22 years of French at the club.

"As a coach, I am very proud to play against Emery," San Jose said. "It's nice that he is also from the Basque region, so it will be an honor for me to shake his hand. But not only because he comes from the Basque like me, but because he is a great, great coach.

"He made an extraordinary career with Sevilla, Paris Saint-Germain and now Arsenal, and he is a fantastic coach, he is a great name at home, so for this I will be proud to finally meet him."

With the Nasr having no victories since his arrival, San Jose hopes to use the game to kick off the season. The former manager of Al Ittihad has signed a one and a half year contract with Nasr, and says he is sure he will be given the opportunity to overturn the team's shape and see his agreement.

"Personally, I'm very happy because I'm in an incredible club," he said. "The players are doing their best, the administration, the president and all the important people of the club are supporting us incredibly.

"This is something I really want to say because, when you win, everyone is happy. But now I can see that this is a professional club. The club is showing me that we actually have a project, that we are doing our best and looking forward to the next season. And personally, the UAE is a beautiful country, my family and I are really enjoying ourselves here. So now I just need victories. "

Updated: March 25th 2019 08:20


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