Abu Dhabi: Al Ain were held to a goalless draw by Emirates in their Round 14 tie of the Arabian Gulf League fixture on Tuesday.
It was an opportunity missed in their backyard by ‘The Boss’ at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium as they trail league leaders Sharjah by five points.
However, all is not lost as Al Ain have played one match less than other teams hence there is still time to make amends.
The draw, however, has put them into second spot — a point ahead of Al Jazira, who lost their encounter against Shabab Al Ahli 1-0.
Midfielder Rayan Yaslem, who missed the entire Asian Cup for UAE with injury, was back in the Al Ain squad and even had his share of chances but failed to get the breakthrough. The closest of them was a left-footed long range volley from Yaslem that went just wide over the bar at the half an hour mark. Ruben Ribeiro and Jamal Maroof had scoring opportunities but failed to make them count.
Al Ain’s interim coach Zeljko Sobic, who took charge of the first team after Croatian Zoran Mamic stepped down from the role, however, was pretty pleased with the showing.
“We created several scoring opportunities. We were close to scoring three goals, but we missed the appeasing factor. However, I would like to thank my players for everything they have done today,” said Sobic, who accepted that his side missed the services of their Swedish striker Marcus Berg.
“I think the question has the answer. The fact is that Marcus Berg, if he is on the team’s list with the degree of readiness required, then we would have achieved more goal compared to the opportunities we created in this game,” said Sobic, adding that preparations of the team will go on as per the requirement of the contests ahead.
“It will go on normally and we will not play any player who has not reached the required level of readiness,” revealed Sobic, whose side will be meeting Al Dhafra next.
In another encounter, Al Wahda defeated Ittihad Kalba 4-2 at the latter’s home ground Ittihad Kalba Stadium.
Leonardo de Souza, Sebastian Tagliabue, Sautan Alghafri and Mourad Batna scored a goal apiece for the winners while for Ittihad Kalba, Myke Ramos scored a brace. Al Wahda now sit at sixth with 21 points while Kalba are on 18 points in eighth place.