Kenwyne Jones is confident Al Jazira have the talent to turn around their season having seen enough positives during his debut on Friday.
The Cardiff City striker joined the club last week on loan until the end of the campaign and has been tasked with scoring the goals to lift Jazira from their current position of 10th in the Arabian Gulf League.
Jones did not find the net in his first match although he played a key role in the 2-2 draw at Al Wasl, helping create his new side’s second goal. The Abu Dhabi club, who also had coach Henk ten Cate in the dugout for the first time, twice took the lead despite being largely outplayed by their fourth-placed hosts, but showed enough fight to suggest they can soon climb the table.
Jones agrees, with the Trinidad and Tobago captain sure Jazira possess enough ability to improve upon what has been a hugely disappointing season.
“I see enough room for progress, I don’t see any problem for this team,” he said. “They can progress easily. We just need to tighten up a few things and we’ll be fine.
“It’s like anywhere in the world. You have moments where you lose a bit of concentration and don’t do things to stay on top of the game. But it’s OK — I believe 100 per cent in this team, we have a lot of talent.”
Jones cited the need for Jazira to be stronger in defence, with the capital club conceding from two set pieces against Wasl. They have been breached 29 times in 14 league matches this campaign — a problem that extends back to last season even though Jazira eventually finished runners-up to Al Ain.
That places more emphasis on Jones to excel up front. The former Premier League forward will carry much of the goalscoring brunt, but has Ali Mabkhout, fellow new signing Angel Lafita and either Thiago Neves or Jefferson Farfan in support.
Jazira are willing to listen to offers for Neves, while Farfan is recovering from an ankle injury. Jones, though, is convinced he can repay the faith the club have shown in him.
“I hope so, that’d be nice,” he said. “Wasl was my first time getting used to the team, the players and who we’re playing against. I feel quite positive and I’m hopeful in the next 12 to 13 games the goals will come.”
Jazira now have almost two weeks until their next match, a time in which Jones says he will use to smooth the transition to UAE football.
“It’s beautiful,” he said. “It’s important for me and the team. We have one or two injuries coming back now so the team will get stronger over the next two weeks and then we can push forward again.”