x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Abel Braga admits his deflated Jazira were outclassed in Champions League

The Al Jazira coach is left with a huge task in motivating his players for the President's Cup semi-final against Al Shabab following last night's 5-1 thrashing by Sepahan.

Abel Braga admits his side were outclassed by Sepahan in Iran.
Abel Braga admits his side were outclassed by Sepahan in Iran.

ABU DHABI // Abel Braga, the Al Jazira coach, was left with a huge task in motivating his players for next Monday's President's Cup semi-final against Al Shabab following last night's 5-1 thrashing by Sepahan in the Asian Champions League.

Ahmad Jamshidian scored two first half goals while Ibrahima Toure, Janjus Milorad and Javad Kazemian added to the second half tally after Bare, Jazira's Brazilian striker, had pulled one back for the visitors soon after the break.

The Brazilian admitted his team was completely outclassed by the superior Iranian outfit and found it hard to explain of his team's poor performance.

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"Everything was obvious in the game," Braga was quoted as saying on the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) website. "They had an overall control over the proceedings of the game.

"They had the complete mastery over us and over the game. I never thought we would concede five goals. Sepahan did deserve the win. I'm wondering why we played like this. Sepahan played really well and finally won the match."

Jazira have been runners-up in the domestic Pro League for the last three seasons and are topping the table on 35 points, seven more than their closest rivals Baniyas with nine games remaining. They are also bidding for a double as they are in the semi-finals of the President's Cup.

After the heavy pounding they received at Esfahan, Braga's side return low in confidence for the domestic competition.

"We are getting good results in the league in UAE and to this date have the best defence line," Braga said. "Rest assured we'll play even better than Sepahan in the following matches."

Jazira drew their opening match with Qatari side Al Gharafa at the Mohammed bin Zayed stadium a fortnight ago and are now at the bottom of the four-team group that also include Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, who moved to second after a 1-0 away win over the Qatari side.

Braga also insisted it was too early to predict the two teams that will go beyond the group stage after two matches.

"I confess that UAE teams do not get good results in continental tournaments like the AFC Champions League but I do reiterate that today wasn't our day," he added.

Amir Ghalenoei, the Sepahan coach, was naturally impressed but not completely satisfied with his team, pointing to several wasted chances.

"I would praise all my players for this great performance," he said. "They were all so professional and I should also appreciate our supporters who motivated us throughout the entire game.

"We created so many chances, but I'm not happy about all the chances we had, because we missed many of them and we could have been even better and scored more. I should think about missing so many chances like this.

"I had said before that you will see a different Sepahan in the continental tournament and I'm happy what I said before was proved in the Jazira game. I knew we would win the game, but honestly not with five goals.

"The football level in UAE is still far behind Iran's but they employ big coaches and players in their football which is an influencing factor. They have got strong infrastructure in their football, but it was us whose power prevailed in the game."

apassela@thenational.ae