Abu Dhabi: The good thing about Al Ain coach Zlatko Dalic is that he is not afraid to put his hand up to accept his mistakes.
In the President’s Cup semi-final against Bani Yas, Al Ain looked like running away with the game with two second half goals. However, the match turned on its head after Dalic substituted his ace playmaker Omar Abdul Rahman in the dying minutes.
Bani Yas immediately pumped in two goals in the span of two minutes to script a remarkable comeback but ended up losing the contest following a brilliant strike by Korean Lee Myung Joo in the second half of the extra time.
“I took Omar out and Bani Yas came back and changed the whole situation. I took him out and that’s my mistake,” accepted Dalic, adding that he chose to get Omar out after being fully convinced that the match was in the bag.
“I think it was finished and Bani Yas didn’t have a chance. However, once they scored their first goal, it gave them a lot of energy. Then usually you see this happening, when you let through one and then you end up conceding another one,” added Dalic, who felt Omar’s absence from the field took the sting out of his team and they almost paid a heavy prize.
“Omar is such a player that he can give out a lot of confidence to his teammates. We have also won without Omar but we are better off with him being on the field. I will not say we rely heavily on him but he was not 100 per cent fit and so I chose to remove him. We have to forget what happened tonight. I can assure you we will not repeat this mistake when we play in Asian Champions League in Iran in a few days’ time,” revealed Dalic, who added that his team showed a lot of character to seal the win in the extra time and that would do a world of good going into the finals.
“I must be honest to you. I would have preferred Al Ahli in the finals. Al Ahli won the Arabian Gulf League but I feel we are the better team. However, Jazira yesterday played well and scored 3 goals against Al Ahli. Of course, it will be a big game as both teams have the desire to win a trophy,” said Dalic, adding that it will be a difficult contest for them as they have the ‘AFC crucial clash to tackle’ ahead of the finals.
“Eleven months we have worked for finals and we want to win a title. I know people are not happy with the result. However, I would say we have done a great job so far. We won the Morocco Super Cup and we were second in league. We have Champions League group stage and now, in the final, so a decent job to say the least,” added the Croatian.
Bani Yas coach Dr Abdullah Misfir, speaking about his team’s show, said: “Don’t tell me hard luck because this is football. The match was quite evenly poised between the two teams. My players played their heart out and were very good all throughout the match. We fought hard to get those two goals and then one mistake cost us the game.”
Dr Misfir added that his side did everything prefect and can walk away with a lot of pride.
“I can’t ask for more from them. I didn’t get a lot of time with this club but, if we had more time, I can get good result. My team will be a different side next season,” said Misfir, who took over as coach recently in March.