AL AIN // Marcos Paqueta was looking ahead after leading his Al Shabab to the President's Cup final on Monday night.
Shabab capped a remarkable week, which started with them earning a ticket to the last 16 of the Asian Champions League following their 2-1 away win over Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan, and was book-ended last night with a 2-0 triumph over Al Wahda in the President's Cup semi-final at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium.
"This team has the potential to do better and my objective is to prepare them for next season," the Brazilian said.
"That is the long-term objective, but my immediate task is to finish as high as possible in the Pro League, to go as far as possible in the Asian Champions League and to prepare for the President's Cup final.
"It has been an incredible week for the club, the players and the fans, and for me, it is work as usual.
"I am just glad all the hard work of the players was rewarded."
Paqueta acknowledged he instructed his troops to adopt a safety-first approach.
"In this knockout format, we should have patience and the players did everything right on the night not to allow Wahda many scoring opportunities," he said. "We had a couple of early chances, but at the end we managed to get the goals we wanted and win the game. The players have had two very hard games this week and in three days we play Kalba in the Pro League."
Josef Hickersberger's return to Wahda as caretaker coach could not raise the spirit of the players.
The Austrian was brought back to the capital club for a third stint after last week's dismissal of Branko Ivankovic, following a poor run of results.
"It is a sad moment for me to come back and lose the semi-final," Hickersberger said.
"We have to be honest to ourselves, because we were just not good enough against Shabab. We didn't create enough chances.
"We knew they had some key players and we managed to keep them marked for most of the game. [Azizbek] Haydarov's goal was obviously the turning point and until then we had managed to keep Shabab quite.
"The main problem for us was, especially in the first half, when we won possession, in the very next pass, we gave the ball away.
"We couldn't play football because we lost possession every time we had the ball.
"After 90 minutes, I had the feeling we could have won this game had we scored first. But after conceding a goal, there was not coming back for us in that late stage of the game. "
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