Dubai: Al Nasr can expect a severe admonishment from coach Cesare Prandelli when they assemble for their next practice session on Sunday.
Playing a lacklustre game, Al Nasr slipped on a seventh-minute Azizbek Haydarov strike, to surrender to a 0-1 home defeat and hand cellar-placed Ajman their first points of the season in Friday’s early match of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL).
Prandelli’s men never looked to be anywhere in the Round Five match against a resolute opponent who fell back and defended in numbers after taking an early lead. A win would have kept The Blues among the early challengers and in at least fourth place behind Al Wahda, Al Wasl and Al Ain. But the loss not only kept them rooted to the fifth spot, but also brought out a threat from their former Italian national team coach.
“I have not said anything to any of the players so far. It is always my preference to wait for at least a day before I express my thoughts to the group. If I say something immediately after a match, then I might say something that I might later regret,” Prandelli told Gulf News at the post-match conference.
“We take a one-day break [Saturday] and meet for our next training session on Sunday. And that is when I will tell my players what I felt after this match,” the 60-year-old added.
However, the former Juventus and Atalanta midfielder could not hide his disappointment at dropping three vital points against a team that had not won a single AGL match. “I will not hide it, but I am very disappointed we actually gifted goal them [Ajman] the goal, and that too so early in the match. We started the match too soft and I am really disappointed with this sort of attitude,” Prandelli fumed.
“Ajman was aggressive and they were closing down spaces so well. We need to learn to respect every opponent. And such a result is unacceptable by any standards. We had two victories coming into this game and this break in momentum should have never happened,” he added.
Ajman coach Ayman Al Rammadi was left setting his sights on more big scalps after his team’s stunning win against a more fancied Al Nasr. Ajman’s last win in Division One had come way back in December 2014 following their 2-0 result against Emirates Club in Round 12 of the 2014-’15 season. Incidentally, that was just one of two wins that seasons for The Orange Brigade that ultimately led to their demotion after finishing in 13th place.
However, on Friday they did all the right things while executing the coach’s plans to near perfection. “Our secret lay in covering each other on the field so that Al Nasr didn’t get too much of space to play freely. Everyone admits that we have been playing well and a first win was bound to come at some point,” the Egyptian coach related.
“This is a very important win for us as we not only get our first three points, but we are also sending a clear signal to all others that Ajman is not going to be easy,” Al Rammadi cautioned.
Meanwhile in Friday’s late night match, Al Wasl missed an opportunity of going two points clear at the top of the standings when they were held to a goalless draw by defending champions Al Jazira.
Al Nasr 0 Ajman 1
Al Jazira 0 Al Wasl 0