x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Al Ain coach hits back at team's critics

Abdulhameed al Mishtiki finds himself in the curious position of defending his Al Ain team after taking six points from their first two matches.

Abdulhameed al Mishtiki found himself in the curious position of defending his Al Ain team after taking six points from their first two matches. The defence were put under the spotlight following Al Ain's opening game when they shipped three goals against Dubai, despite winning the game by the odd goal in seven. And although they failed to muster a goal during the first 45 minutes against Al Nasr on Friday, they eventually ran out 3-0 winners.

"All the critics are only looking at the mistakes we make," the coach said after the Nasr match. "In sports and in football you are bound to make mistakes. You have to be calm and work hard to make things better." Two goals from Jose Sand and another from Abdulaziz Fayez against Nasr ensured Al Ain took six points from their opening two fixtures, to put them top of the Pro League with Al Jazira and Baniyas.

Al Ain played without Yousuf Abdulrahman, the goalkeeper hospitalised after a car crash. Across town, Al Shabab's coach was optimistic a 2-0 victory over Dubai would give his side renewed confidence. "Dubai wasn't an easy team," said the Brazilian Paulo Bonamigo. "They scored three against Al Ain, and had a couple of dangerous players in attack, Michael N'dri and Rachid Tiberkanin. We had these two tightly marked throughout the game."

Julio Cesar, the Brazilian, and Lamine Diarra, the Senegalese, were on target, but Shabab could have scored but were wasteful in front of goal. "The results so far have been decided on the mistakes we have made," Bonamigo said. "We played a good first game against Baniyas but committed one mistake and lost the game 1-0 at home. Against Dubai, I would like to think we had not [contributed] much to concede a goal."

arizvi@thenational.ae * Additional reporting from Amith Passela