We were a bit nervous but we got our job done: Al Ain coach Dalic

We were a bit nervous but we got our job done: Al Ain coach Dalic

Al Ain, who held a 2-1 advantage going into the second leg, beat Al Jazira by an identical margin at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday night.



By James Jose

Published: Thu 15 May 2014, 10:59 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:20 PM

Al Ain coach Zlatko Dalic admitted that his side were a bit nervous in the beginning but was pleased to see them rally from a goal down to beat Al Jazira and ensure qualification for the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League.

Al Ain, who held a 2-1 advantage going into the second leg, beat Al Jazira by an identical margin at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday night.

“I’m very happy that my team qualified for the quarter-finals. That was our target and we reached that. I’m very happy also that you wouldn’t ask me what happened in the second half. We played at a very high level in the second half tonight. I want to congratulate my players, especially for the second half. We were a bit nervous at the beginning. But after that, we took everything in our hands. We have a better quality team than Al Jazira and we deserved this win,” Dalic said after the game.

“I prepared my team to attack. We were a bit nervous and that was a mistake. That gave confidence to Al Jazira. But after that, we played very well. I did not tell my players to play defence. But it is normal that my team stayed back because of the nervousness but it is football. You can’t do a best job because Omar stayed on the line and Al Jazira played man-to-man against Omar. But Omar is a quality player and he played well in the second half,” he added.

The Croatian said that he now has time on his hands to prepare the team for the quarterfinals. “The next stage is after three months. I will have time to prepare my team how I want to. We will also be better fitness wise. We will be better in everything. But we will be playing at a higher level. I’m sure we can play better than today. This win is a big one for my team,” he said.

With qualification in the bag, Dalic was ready for bigger challenges. “I’m very happy. It was a big success for me and my team. I know that everybody respect our result and I’m ready for bigger challenges and bigger results,” said Dalic.

The record 11-time League champions failed in their title defence this season and finished sixth. And Dalic said that the qualification for the quarterfinals of the Asian competition as well as a win in the President’s Cup will save the season for them.

“Winning the President’s Cup final will save the season. I know that our fans are angry. We were playing for a quarterfinal spot against Al Jazira and I expected it to be a full stadium. I expected a lot of fans and big support. But I know that our fans are angry. But now, my team has changed everything. Win or lose, fans should stand by a team. But I want to thank the fans who came and supported us tonight. I hope they come to Abu Dhabi for the President’s Cup final,” he said.

Al Ain take on the team who toppled them fierce rivals Al Ahli in the final of the President’s Cup on Sunday.

“We can take a lot of confidence from this win. The media has been talking a lot about my team’s fitness levels. But tonight, you saw the team’s fitness. It is all about being mentally prepared. It is all in the head. My players will take a lot of confidence and know that they are ready for a full game. We will fight and we can play a better game in the final. A win there will save the season for us,” Dalic added.

He said that they will be well prepared for the final despite having just four days to recuperate apart from a friendly against Manchester City added in.

“We will be ready for it. We have a friendly against Manchester City before that. I will speak to my players and prepare my team for the final. It is difficult for us that we have just four days. We will be tired but it will be fine. I don’t want to find any excuses for the final. It is a big game and a lot of history. We have to give everything for it,” Dalic said.

james@khaleejtimes.com


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