Abu Dhabi: Pumped up after thrashing Qatar’s Al Rayyan 4-1 to cement a place in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League, Al Ain can’t wait to seal the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) title.
The Boss have not managed to clinch any trophy so far this season but are on the cusp of clinching the AGL crown as they are leading second-placed Al Wahda by four points with two matches remaining.
“We were just thinking about winning this outing against Al Rayyan and concentrating back on the League. We want to clinch that title and focus back on this tournament. When your opponent’s lose 4-1 at home, it confirms that we had a good game,” said Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic adding that, the opponents had their share of chances but failed to capitalise.
“They couldn’t convert the opportunities and my team deserved to win and qualify. I always prepare my team in every confrontation to win. I’m always working on preparing my team in the form required to achieve their goals,” added Mamic, whose team superseded their opponents, thanks to inspired performances from ace playmaker Omar Abdul Rahman and Swedish striker Marcus Berg.
Hussain El Shahat put Al Ain in the lead in the 11th minute, converting on the rebound after Brazilian Caio’s initial effort was blocked by Oumar Barry.
Omar Abdul Rahman doubled the lead after the change of ends with a sublime curling free-kick from the edge of the box. Berg then widened it to 3-0 after he slotted home a pinpoint cross from Japanese recruit Tsukasa Shiotani. Berg later completed his brace for the night in an identical fashion obliging to a cross in the 78th minute from Caio. The consolation goal for the host came five minutes from time though their striker Sebastian Soria.
Berg revealed that his team has been in excellent form in the group stages and was reaping the rewards of playing as a strong unit.
“I’m happy that I managed to support the efforts of my colleagues with goals. Support of my colleagues and the coach has helped me to contribute to the victory of my team. We were strong and deserved to qualify for the final of the Champions League. I hope that we continue in the same way in the remaining part of the competition,” said Berg, who for his effort was adjudged the ‘Player of the Match’.
Omar Abdul Rahman, with 17 goals in the ACL, is one away from equalling former Al Ain’s Ghanaian recruit Asamoah Gyan’s record in the ACL.
“It will be nice to match Gyan and every player seeks to do something like that. The presence of four players (Rayan Yaslam, Abdul Rahman, Esmael Ahmad and Mohannad Salem) for the Golden Ball award in the AGL confirms the high value of our team players. For the Golden Glove award for the best goalkeeper also we have Khalid Eisa and Marcus Berg and Caio Fernandez from Al Ain for the Golden Ball. It showed we all have a put in a good show all through this season,” said Abdul Rahman.