Jazira show pleases coach

Al Jazira coach Caio Junior was pleased to take his side to the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League for the first time and said that they had a chance to rewrite history by going on and winning the continental showpiece.

By James Jose

Published: Fri 20 Apr 2012, 1:03 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:47 PM

Al Jazira qualified for the Round of 16 with a 1-1 draw over Iran’s Esteghlal at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Wednesday night.

Arash Borhani put the Iranian club ahead in the 24th minute but Ricardo Oliveira drew level for Al Jazira in the 63rd minute.

“I’m so happy that we have qualified. Also, it was first time in Al Gharafa history and now with Al Jazira. So, we are on the verge of making history. I hope I can do much more. I’m happy to be working with Al Jazira,” said Junior.

It remains to be seen if they finish as the table toppers or the second-placed team from Group A. Group leaders Al Jazira moved to 10 points with two games left, while Esteghlal have five points.

Junior said that they will go all out in the remaining two games to ensure they finish top of the group, which will earn them a home fixture in the knockout phase.

“We are making history but the next phase is only one game. So, it is important to play at home. We are going to play to get first spot in the group. That is our target. It will make a difference in playing the next round at home,” he said. And the Brazilian believes that the Abu Dhabi club can go all the way.

“Once we go after this match, the possibility to reach the final increases. And we must believe in this possibility,” Junior said.

Al Jazira almost would have had to wait for the next two games to qualify after an average showing in the first half and a strong opening by the visitors. But changing the position of his players in the second half saw them come up with a much improved show.

“In the first half, Esteghlal were better. And in the seocnd half, Al Jazira were better. The Esteghlal’s coach’s strategy was very intelligent. They had a lot of ball possession and we could not even play 10 percent of our capability in the first half. In the second half, I changed positions of a few players. I put Oliveira on the right, Ibrahim Diaky close to Bare and Matias Delgado on the left and it had its effect. Delgado played a very bad first half. He is a player on whom we have a lot of confidence. And he was better in the second half,” he said.

Meanwhile, Esteghlal coach Parviz Mazloum was unhappy with the result and said that Al Jazira were lucky with the goal.

“We were good in the first half. We controlled the match. We could have won the game. In the second half, players were tired. I’m not satisfied with this result. Al Jazira’s goal was luck. This is football. There are chances. The ball hit the back of Oliveira head and went to goal. It was a chance and they used their chance,” Mazloum said.

He said that there were six points still up for grabs. “There are six points still to play for. Al Jazira need two more points to qualify as the top team. They have a good midfield and attackers. But in defence, they are weak. But in Iran, we couldnt get past them. We had 12 chances,” he said.


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