By Sports Reporter/ Doha
Head coach Nicolas Cordova promised Al Rayyan will improve following a 1-1 draw against Sharjah in their AFC Champions League 2022 Group A tie on Friday.
Sharjah took the lead through Bernard’s free-kick at the stroke of half-time but Al Rayyan fought back with Steven N’zonzi netting the equaliser.
The result leaves Sharjah and Al Rayyan locked on four points with the UAE side ahead on goal difference.
“We know before the start that playing against a team like Sharjah was not going to be easy. It was a very challenging contest,” said Cordova. “We didn’t start the first half at the level we expected from ourselves. We’re not bad but we can be better. We played much better in the second half and scored a goal and claimed a valuable point I felt that the game was equal in several aspects and we know that the second game will not be easy but we will try to prepare and perform better than we did today.”
Al Rayyan were missing several big names including James Rodriguez and Shojae Khalilzadeh through injury but Cordova insists his decision to field a young squad will benefit the team in the long-term.
“Coming into this game missing five regular starters was not easy. But that creates an opportunity for us to give some of the younger players and reserves AFC Champions League experience and playing at this level can certainly benefit not only the player but the club as well in the long term.
“We need to improve our attacking play but looking back, we have fared quite well from the first game against Istiklol and then we created some chances against Al Hilal. However, the pace of the match today was quick and physical as well. We changed our tactics for today and adapting this new style between games is tough.”
Meanwhile, Cosmin Ol roiu is looking forward to facing Al Rayyan again on Matchday Four with the Romanian insisting that Sharjah must win the reverse fixture against the Qatari side.
“It’s very frustrating because Al Rayyan didn’t have any chance in the game but scored from a set-piece and we tried to play and create from the situations that we had but it was not enough,” said Ol?roiu. “The quality and clarity to win the game was not enough from the team. The condition of the pitch also affected our game.”
Sharjah wasted plenty of chances in the first half before Bernard curled in his free-kick. Ol?roiu’s side, however, couldn’t replicate their first half display in the remaining 45 minutes.
“In the UAE Pro League, we are playing with a different team as compared to those who are playing here in this tournament. For us it is difficult because we don’t have a huge squad and we are also not a physical side like Al Rayyan, so maybe we struggled a little bit in that area.
“However, it’s very important to win the next game. I hope we can recover quickly and produce a much better performance than today. If we win on Matchday Four we stand a good chance of qualifying into the next round.”
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