Xavi: We need to improve, there’s a long way to go
September 17 2020 02:31 AM
Al Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil
Al Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil

AFC/ Doha

Al Sadd SC head coach Xavi feels his team deserved to come out with more than just a point from their Matchday Three encounter against United Arab Emirates side Al Ain FC in the 2020 AFC Champions League, which ended 3-3.
Kodjo Laba opened the scoring for Al Ain early on. 2019 AFC Footballer of the Year Akram Afif equalised on 35 minutes, shortly before Bauyrzhan Islamkhan hammered home a contender for goal of the tournament to put Al Ain ahead before half time.
A debut goal from Santi Cazorla followed by a Baghdad Bounedjah tap-in put Al Sadd ahead before friendly fire from Boualem Khoukhi put the game back on equal terms. The result meant Al Sadd slipped down to second place on five points after Al Nassr managed a win against Sepahan FC, while Al Ain took their first point of the campaign yet remained bottom of the group, four points off second place.
“We deserved more against Al Ain, and we need to improve ourselves,” said Xavi. “There’s still a long way to go in the AFC Champions League. We created a number of chances in the first half, but we weren’t good enough.
“In the second half the team was superb and did a lot better, but we weren’t lucky enough in front of goal. This is football though; it was normal that all the chances we created would see us through but that did not happen.”
For Al Ain, improving on Tuesday’s result in the reverse fixture will be vital if they are to avoid back-to-back group stage exits for the first time since 2010 and 2011, and head coach Pedro Emanuel knows his side can ill-afford to waste time.
“We played against excellent opposition in our first game in six months, we should be happy with our performance and the result,” said the former Al Taawoun boss.
“This is an important point for us, especially for our confidence because we were not at our best. We aimed to pressure Al Sadd’s players and as soon as we took possession, we attacked quickly.
“They looked for spaces to exploit in our team. In the second half, we conceded two goals in quick succession and we made some changes to get the points.”
“It’s hard to play every three days, but we have been ready for this.
“We need to get maximum points in the next game. The players need to rest the day after the match, after the magnificent efforts they made today. We will keep working to our schedule as planned.”
The two former champions will go head to head again on Friday in Matchday Four, when a result will be needed for Al Ain in order to keep their chances of progression alive while Al Sadd will look to keep pace with Al Nassr at the top of Group D.

Duhail should have scored more against Sharjah, says Almoez

Striker Almoez Ali believes Al Duhail SC should have registered a more convincing victory against UAE’s Sharjah in their 2020 AFC Champions League Group C tie on Tuesday.
The Qatar champions registered their second win in the group with the 2019 AFC Asian Cup top scorer opening the scoring before Rami Rezaeian added the second with Igor Coronado pulling a goal back for Sharjah from the penalty spot.
While Ali stressed that getting the three points was important, he said Al Duhail’s superior performance meant they should have scored more goals at the Education City Stadium.
“We had a great performance and were the better side,” said Ali. “It was very important for us to win the match in order to increase our chances of qualifying to the next stage.
“Sharjah are the UAE champions and they are a strong team but we could have scored more goals. However, this match is over and we must focus on the next (against Sharjah again on Friday).”
Sharjah goalkeeper Adel Al Hosani said the UAE side were punished for their mistakes.
“We didn’t have a good performance at all in the first half,” said Al Hosani. “However, we improved in the second half and created several scoring chances but failed to convert them. We must not make that mistake again.
“Our performance, in general, was not as what we had expected. We should prepare better for the next match and fix the mistakes that we made tonight.”
The defeat means Sharjah are still in search of their first win, with the UAE side rooted at the bottom of the Group C standings on one point.
Al Duhail, with six points, are second with Saudi Arabia’s Al Taawoun leading the standings and Islamic Republic of Iran’s Persepolis FC (four) third.(AFC)

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