x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Braga can see hope in failure

The Al Jazira camp knew they were on a near-hopeless mission on Sunday.

Subait Khater, left, races past an Ajman defender during his side's
4-1 victory on Sunday night.
Subait Khater, left, races past an Ajman defender during his side's 4-1 victory on Sunday night.

AJMAN // The Al Jazira camp knew they were on a near-hopeless mission on Sunday. Al Ahli led them by a point in the Pro League table and it seemed unlikely they would surrender it to their neighbours Al Shabab on the final night of the competition. Some of the more faithful Jazira fans who had travelled to Ajman felt they had a glimmer of a chance, but those notions soon evaporated after the news emerged Ahli were 2-0 up in the 10th minute. The vociferous chanting to the drum beats of the Jazira camp sobered gradually as the game progressed at the Rashid bin Saeed Stadium.

It was a scenario predicted by Jazira coach, Abel Braga, as he watched his players from the sidelines. In an achingly familiar turn of events, Jazira were second best again - just like last season. Braga praised the champions Ahli, saying: "We must congratulate them. "They concentrated on the league and did well to win it. They were the only team to beat us in both the league matches, and went through 19 matches without a defeat, and they won nine of their last 10 games. That itself is enough to prove they deserved to be champions. And we can't expect others to win for us.

"We lost some valuable points with Ajman and Al Shaab and that proved very costly for us at the end. I think we still played good football and finished second, much ahead of the others, and we took the league to the final night." Jazira emerged 4-1 winners over Ajman in the last game and Braga was given a standing ovation from the Jazira fans. The Ivorian Tony scored twice for a 2-0 lead at the break, and the Brazilian Fernando Baiano and the captain Saleh Obaid doubled the lead after the hour.

Mohammed Khamis scored a consolation goal for Ajman a minute from time. Despite a season without any trophies, the club have kept faith on Braga and handed him a new two-year contract before Sunday's game. And the Brazilian said: "We didn't win any trophies but it was a satisfying first season for me with Jazira. This team has the potential to go one step ahead and win some trophies next season."

apassela@thenational.ae