Al Shabab coach Caio gives thumbs up to play­ers

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

Al Shabab coach Caio Ju­nior has given his group of play­ers the thumbs-up af­ter snatch­ing a spot for next year's Asian Cham­pi­ons League (ACL). Al Shabab over­came a sloppy start at home to snatch three points against cross-city op­po­nents and ti­tle con­tenders Al Nasr in 20th round ac­tion of the Ara­bian Gulf League (AGL) late on Satur­day.

The win pushed Ju­nior's side one spot up into sixth while Al Nasr were re­placed by neigh­bours Al Wasl in third spot with their fifth loss so far this sea­son. On the other hand, this was Al Shabab's se­cond win af­ter last week's stun­ning 2-1 away re­sult against de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Al Ain. Satur­day's win came due to a se­cond half strike from Nasser Masaood - his se­cond in as many games - to con­tinue their fight for the top po­si­tions. The lone goal came ten min­utes into the se­cond half with the three points tak­ing the Al Mamzar team into sixth place with 29 points. Neigh­bours Al Ahli con­tinue to lead the stand­ings with 50 points while de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Al Ain may cut down the lead to one point, should they man­age to pick up full points against Al Jazira with the two teams sched­uled to meet late on Sun­day.

"Our tar­get now is to fin­ish in third place. We need to be­lieve in the last six games and this task is not im­pos­si­ble. All we need is to keep our fo­cus and go for max­i­mum points," Ju­nior told me­dia. "I be­lieve in my group of play­ers. We lost some games, but that may be be­cause we didn't have the luck. We are the third best de­fence in the league with only Al Ahli and Al Ain bet­ter than us. Our prob­lem is in of­fence. We have good or­ga­ni­za­tion and we have good play­ers who can make their pres­ence count in the last stages of the league," he added.

Al Nasr coach Ivan Jo­vanovic was proud of his team, though he hit out at the ref­er­ee­ing. "As a coach I can't say any­thing to my play­ers as they played well and fought till the end. Com­ing from a string of strong games we did well to cre­ate a lot of chances. But this one set piece was de­ci­sive and that set­tled our fate even though we cre­ated a bet­ter share of chances."

On a dif­fer­ent note, Jo­vanovic said: "I be­lieve we had to face Al Shabab and all the wrong de­ci­sions from the ref­eree [Yaqoob Qas­sim]. That's tough to take es­pe­cially when your team is play­ing well. I don't be­lieve the stan­dard of ref­er­ee­ing was ad­e­quate for a league match and this is what puz­zled us as a team," he said.

"There is a huge dif­fer­ence in the num­ber of fouls we com­mit­ted and the num­ber of times the ref­eree blew the whis­tle against us. Blow­ing the whis­tle so many times, per­haps 40 to 45 times against one team, doesn't help the pace of the game," he re­marked. "The other team com­mit­ted fouls and went un­pun­ished, but any­thing we did was im­me­di­ately no­ticed by the ref­eree. How can we score a goal with so many stop­pages?" he queried.

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