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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 08/05/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Al ain hold 1st leg advantage overjazira in champions league

al ain coach zlatko dalic was pleased that they had achieved what they had set out to do but cautioned that it was not over yet.

al ain gave al jazira a master class in attacking football and were two goals to the good inside the first 15 minutes. but al jazira staged a brilliant fightback to reduce the margin in the second half. but ‘the boss’ finished with a 2-1 in the first leg of the round of 16 fixture of the afc champions league at the mohammed bin zayed stadium on tuesday night.

asamoah gyan the tournament’s leading scorer raised his tally to eight by putting al ain ahead on 11 minutes. four minutes later omar abdulrahman fired a screamer which goalkeeper ali khaseif had no answer to. al jazira pulled one back through former al ain man musallem fayez who headed it home on 58 minutes.

“yesterday i said that our target was to play a good game and win. we played very well in the first half and we could have scored a few more. but we were not up to the same level in the second half and al jazira tried and matched us. also my players were tired and had lost energy. i was forced to make the three substitutions” dalic said about his side’s dip in performance in the second half.

“i told my players to keep the ball and keep passing. but al jazira attacked a lot more in the second half. the situation was better for us because we were two goals up. but we gave them too much space in the second half. i didn’t tell my players to come back and play defensively. it is not my style” he added.

dalic said that the job was half done and urged his players to fight in the second leg as well. al ain will play host to al jazira in the return leg at the hazza bin zayed stadium on may 13.

“we have got a good result but we have to be wary for the return leg. al jazira must win and score two or three goals. but my team will fight for it” he said.

despite carrying an advantage of two away goals dalic said that it was still too early to entertain thoughts of having sealed a quarterfinal berth.

“we cannot think of the next round (quarterfinals) yet. we still have a game in al ain. i don’t want my players to be complacent and think of the next round just yet. now we will forget this win and think of the return leg” said dalic.

al ain have a hectic schedule where they play four games over the next fortnight. after the first leg al ain will play their final arabian gulf league game against al wasl on friday after the fixtures were revised. they then welcome al jazira for the return leg of the asian competition next tuesday. after that al ain will play a friendly game against former english premier league champions manchester city on may 15. they round it off with the president’s cup final against al ahli on may 18.

and dalic sounded out a rallying cry to his players. “i want my team to continue this form and do a good job. i told my players ‘10 days three games. please focus and give everything’” he said.


Khaleej Times

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