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Mamic sees no reason to panic over Sharjah loss

Defiant Al Ain coach looks ahead to home clash against Al Wahda after first defeat of the season

Image Credit: AGL
Al Ain’s Omar Abdul Rahman (centre) restored parity after Sharjah scored first but the home side added two more.
Gulf News

Dubai: Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic immediately turned his thoughts to Thursday’s Arabian Gulf League title-defining clash with Al Wahda after his side fell to their first defeat of the season 3-1 away to Sharjah on Saturday.

Omar Abdul Rahman’s 15th minute penalty cancelled out Vander Vieira’s fourth minute spot-kick, but Vieira got a second from the spot on 66 minutes before Lulinha grabbed a third from open play on 88 minutes for Sharjah.

Victory for league leaders Al Ain would have sent them four points clear of second-placed Al Wahda, who were held to a goalless draw at home to Shabab Ahli on Friday, but instead, Al Ain’s two-point lead has been cut to one after losing to mid-table Sharjah and now there are just five matches left.

“The fate of the team is still in our hands despite the loss to Sharjah,” said a defiant Mamic. “We are now waiting for Al Wahda in our stadium in front of our fans in the next round,” he added of Thursday’s crunch fixture from 8.15pm.

“We didn’t appear with the required image today and didn’t exploit our opportunities, but these things happen and now we have the chance to improve.

“We had a number of problems during our preparation for this match,” he said, alluding to Marcus Berg, who was suffering with fever, and Ahmad Khalil, whose sister passed away last week. Both came on as substitutes but couldn’t make an impact.

“Our technical decisions weren’t wrong,” he insisted. “If we hadn’t made those changes, the result may have been worse.”

Meanwhile, Al Wahda striker Esmail Mattar defended his side’s goalless draw at home to mid-table Shabab Ahli and said the title was still within their grasp.

“We should not forget that, despite the draw, we faced a team of stars, most of whom are members of the national team,” he said.

“We were seeking to win but missed several opportunities, especially in the second half, but the experience of Shabab Ahli’s players didn’t allow us to impose our style.

“Now we need to focus on the last few metres,” he said of the title run-in.

“Whoever can control his nerves and concentration until the end will be champion. The next game away to Al Ain will certainly have a word in resolving the title, but there are five matches and we need to stay calm and focused for all.”

Elsewhere, third-placed Al Wasl lost 2-0 away to Dibba on Saturday to all but end any hopes they had of contending for the title.

The win for Dibba moves them out of danger for now, but Emirates’ 1-1 draw at home to Ajman, Al Dhafra’s 1-0 defeat away to Al Nasr, and Hatta’s 2-1 defeat away to Al Jazira leaves all three still in the relegation mire, with the bottom two going down.


Results & Standings

Friday’s matches

Al Jazira 2 Hatta 1

Al Nasr 1 Al Dhafra 0

Al Wahda 0 Shabab Ahli 0


Emirates 1 Ajman 1

Dibba 2 Al Wasl 0

Sharjah 3 Al Ain 0


P W D L F A Df Pts

1 Al Ain 17 11 5 1 43 19 24 38

2 Al Wahda 17 11 4 2 37 16 21 37

3 Al Wasl 17 9 5 3 35 23 12 32

4 Al Nasr 17 9 2 6 24 16 8 29

5 Al Jazira 17 6 7 4 27 25 2 25

6 Sharjah 17 6 4 7 20 23 -3 22

7 Shabab Ahli 17 4 9 4 20 15 5 21

8 Ajman 17 5 5 7 19 29 -10 20

9 Dibba 17 3 6 8 17 28 -11 15

10 Hatta 17 3 4 10 26 44 -18 13

11 Al Dhafra 17 2 6 9 18 30 -12 12

12 Emirates 17 3 3 11 18 36 -18 12