Dubai: Al Nasr coach Krunoslav Jurcic was relieved sighting a better future for his side especially against lower-placed teams in the Arabian Gulf League (AGL).
Now played behind closed doors, Al Nasr had to bank on a 64th-minute goal from Brazilian Glauber Sequeira Lima to pick up full points against the visiting Khor Fakkan late on Friday. Until that strike that goal, the visitors had matched Al Nasr, except for a bleak moment in the 57th minute when substitute Gabriel Valentini Da Silva was denied by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) after a handball inside the area.
But, Al Nasr kept possession – 64 per cent by the final whistle – and got a much-needed goal that handed them full points along with a belief that they can win against so-called weaker teams. This season, Al Nasr has seemingly struggled against such teams.
The men in blue have lost both their home and away encounters against Al Dhafra and Ajman, while also going down by a solitary goal against Bani Yas to stand sixth in the 14-team standings with 31 points. Coach Jurcic – a member of the Croatian national team that won third place at the 1998 Fifa World Cup in France – was aware of his team’s fragility against weaker sides.
“We were aware that this match against Khor Fakkan would be a difficult one for us, simply because we don’t play such opponents who defend stoutly near their box and then bounce on quick counter-attacks. But, tonight we proved we had the patience to wait for that elusive goal, and at the end we have three very important points,” Jurcic said.
“No doubt, we have a problem with this type of teams, and honestly we never had a solution on how to find a way past such a team till our win tonight. The important thing for us is that we have managed to break this trend and find a way to three points that we fully deserved,” he added.
Jurcic, who took over as the Al Nasr coach in mid-season in October last year, has seen his team play entertaining football while notching wins against the bigger teams such as Al Wahda, Al Jazira, and more recently, defending champions Sharjah.
“Patience was the key no doubt, and I am proud of my players as they waited for their chance. We found a way to get the three points and that’s a huge positive at the end of the day for the future,” Jurcic stressed.
Khor Fakkan coach Goran Tufegdzic was not too ruffled at having his team’s five-match unbeaten streak coming to an end. “The loss really doesn’t bother me too much as it is normal to lose a match. I am really happy with the way my players, especially the defence, responded. They showed a lot of discipline, and maybe we should have had a better result tonight,” Tufegdzic said.
“We need to target a better future while learning the lessons of tonight. The main aim, of course, is to remain in the league, and for this to happen, we need to follow this same route. We have another seven matches and that means we have another 21 points to play for. We will continue working towards our goal,” he promised.