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Flores dismayed by home form

Al Ahli throw away 11th home point of season after conceding late to Al Dhafra

Gulf News

Dubai: Al Ahli coach Quique Sanchez Flores was left looking for answers after his side dropped their 11th league point at home this season against Al Dhafra on Saturday.

Makhete Diop cancelled out Edinaldo Grafite’s first-half penalty with a last-minute goal, allowing Al Jazira to leapfrog Al Ahli into second in the table.

The Red Knights have picked up only 10 points at home this season from a possible 21 after four draws, two wins and a loss. In contrast, however, their away form has been much better, Flores’s men collecting 16 points from a total of 18 after five wins and a draw.

“Something’s wrong,” said Flores. “I can understand how you can lose 11 points across a mixture of home and away fixtures, but not all from home ones. Eleven points is too many and we will try to find the solution [to our struggles].

“We controlled the game today and it wasn’t normal for us to lose two points in the last minute. At home the team feels blocked, but when we play away, we play well, with feeling and freedom. We are brave and make good decisions.”

The former Atletico Madrid coach, who won the Etisalat Cup and finished fifth in the league in his first season with the Al Ghusais club last year, added: “We had three or four opportunities to kill the game, but we were slow and we didn’t play clean football. We needed more running and width, but the opposition came here and closed us down too much. We play to win, with fast, attacking football, but Al Dhafra contained us.”

Snatching the point for Al Dhafra represented the Abu Dhabi club’s second positive result in two matches since Frenchman Laurent Banide took over from Dzemal Hadziabdic following a winless streak of seven matches. Al Dhafra had won only their opening game and drawn four and lost three matches under the Bosnian.

But under Banide, they’ve undergone a stunning transformation and have now beaten Al Nasr at home and drawn away to Al Ahli.

Banide said: “Against Al Nasr we played with 10 men for 70 minutes, and to secure the win showed great spirit. Against Al Ahli we went behind but got one goal back and that’s also very important for the spirit of the team.

“We must progress. We have some time to work on mistakes made in order to do better next time. But for the moment, I arrived just last week and we’ve played two games and I’m very happy with what I’ve seen. We have a break for cup fixtures and after that we’ll talk to the management to discuss changes and see what their decision is. But at the moment I’m very happy.”