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Oct, 24, 2012

Mancini: We must limit Ajax's chances

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has urged his defenders to concede few chances on goal when they face Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart was hailed for his heroics during City's 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund on matchday two, but Mancini admits that his side can't afford to give away as many opportunities against Ajax.

"It is better that we don't concede a lot of shots again," Mancini said. "But we played against Real Madrid in Madrid, so it is difficult not to concede chances. And we had a bad game against Dortmund, but it is important we don't give away so many chances to score. This group is very difficult. We haven't started very well and we know it will be a difficult game against Ajax."

City are sitting third in Group D behind Real and Dortmund with Mancini quick to acknowledge that the Premier League champions must take maximum points from their next two matches against the Dutch side.

Although City are yet to assert themselves as a powerhouse on the European stage, Mancini believes inexperience is no longer an excuse and it is time for the club's talismen to prove their worth.

"We don't have experience as a club, but all of our players have Champions League experience," he said. "Maybe as a club we need more experience, but we have good players and that's why we should be in the second stage.

"It's not easy because you need luck in this competition when you have the draw for the group. That is why we also want to play for a better seeding. But if we started the group so-so, we still have a chance to go through, but we must take our chance and not lose it. It is frustrating, but we should continue our way and if we play like this, we will win."

City have only managed one win in their last four Champions League matches away from home but captain Vincent Kompany insists he is eager to forget past mistakes.

"The past is irrelevant. We will go into the game hoping to win as we always do," Kompany said. "You can't bring up things that have gone wrong in the past. What we have to take with us is the things that have gone well.

"This is a very tough group and we always knew that. There are no easy games and this one is no different. It's very tight, but it makes it more exciting. But we are a very disciplined team and we have always shown the capacity to react. This is a different game, though, a different set-up, and it is important for us to win."

Ajax have failed to register a point from their opening two matches and while City's poor form in Europe gives them some hope of clawing their way off the bottom of the table, coach Frank de Boer concedes that he is worried about their English opponents finally hitting good form.

"It is difficult to put your finger on why City are not performing in Europe as they are in the Premier League," de Boer said. "Maybe they're a bit like Dortmund last year - fantastic in Bundesliga but not so good in the Champions League.

"Everything can change suddenly, though, so hopefully they are not going to hit that form here. We don't have the players to play defensively against City, but we showed against Dortmund that we can play. We have to have confidence that we can perform much, much better."

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