football

‘Don’t panic,’ says Al Ain’s Mamic

Boss coach still confident of qualifying despite third straight ACL group draw

18:41 March 7, 2018
Shiotani

Dubai: Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic says there is no need to panic after his side recorded their third consecutive draw in the Asian Champions League (ACL) group stages, 2-2 at home to Iran’s Esteghlal on Tuesday.

Ahmad Khalil’s 89th minute penalty saved Al Ain from defeat after Esteghlal’s Mame Thiam scored either side of Marcus Berg’s 63rd minute equaliser on 52 and 77 minutes.

This was Al Ain’s third point in the group after the 2003 ACL champions and 2005, 2016 runners-up followed an opening goalless draw away to Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal with a 1-1 draw at home to Qatar’s Al Rayyan.

They are now third in Group D, level with Al Rayyan on three points but separated on goal difference. Esteghlal are top on five points, while Al Hilal are bottom on two.

“We still have three games with nine points on offer so I don’t think there’s any reason to worry,” said Mamic.

“Surely, we should have taken more points but our competitors in the group are strong and we will fight until the end, confident in our ability to qualify.

“We are still in the race heading into our fourth group game, but we were looking forward to playing at home in front of our own supporters tonight,” he added.

His side now face Esteghlal away on March 12 and Al Rayyan away on April 16, either side of Al Hilal at home on April 2.

“The home fans enhance our motivation and enthusiasm of the players to show their best and we are now required to increase our rate of goals in the competition.” Elsewhere, on Tuesday, Al Wahda suffered their third straight ACL group stage defeat 2-0 away to Iran’s Zob Ahan, and sit bottom of Group B.

On Monday, Al Wasl also lost for the third time 2-0 away to Iran’s Persepolis, to remain rooted to the bottom of Group C, and Al Jazira drew 0-0 at home to Iran’s Tractor Sazi for their fourth point to sit second in Group A after an earlier win and a loss.