x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Pagelsdorf giving nothing away

Frank Pagelsdorf, unlike his fiery predecessor at Al Nasr, seldom bares his emotions - not in the dugout and never outside of it.

Frank Pagelsdorf, unlike his fiery predecessor at Al Nasr, seldom bares his emotions - not in the dugout and never outside of it. Almost monk-like, he says little during the match and much less after it, measured in his assessment of a side who have been unpredictable in their campaign this season. At home, where most teams fancy their chances of gaining maximum points, Nasr have not won in seven games, frustrating their legion of fans, who had plenty of things to say not suitable for printing after the 1-1 draw against Al Dhafra on Saturday night. A fourth consecutive stalemate at Al Maktoum Stadium in the Pro League. Their struggles at home have usually followed a good performance on the road. After a battling draw at Al Ahli, the Blue Wave sank to a 1-3 defeat against Al Shaab; after beating Al Sharjah 2-3, they shared the honours with Dhafra, a team they had trounced 4-1 in the away leg. "Maybe the team finds it a lot easier to play in away games," reasoned Pagelsdorf, who took over at Nasr from Luka Bonacic in the first week of January. "In the last two games at home, we conceded soft early goals and that has been the problem. It puts the team on the backfoot. "If you see the first goal in this match, Dhafra scored from the first chance they got. After that, I got the feeling that some players got a bit nervous. "They started making mistakes in the midfield and lost possession easily. In the second half, the team fought back hard. We had many chances, but unfortunately no luck." During a brief resurgence in the second half, Mahmoud Hassan Darwish salvaged a point for Nasr with an equaliser after Mohammed Abdulqader had put the visitors ahead in the seventh minute. The draw leaves Nasr in ninth place with 17 points with four of their remaining seven games to be played at home, against Al Shabab, Al Khaleej, Al Jazira and Al Wasl. The away games are not any easier with visits to Al Ain (next Saturday), Ajman and Al Wahda. Pagelsdorf is, however, convinced his side can avoid the ignominy of relegation "if we play every game like the second half". Al Dhafra are also battling to avoid the drop, despite losing just once in their last six games. They are currently in 10th place with 14 points with coach Eid Barout determined to keep fighting. "Every game is like a final for us from now on," he said. "We will be playing to win all the games. I am happy with my players; they have shown a lot of character and courage. "We have had five draws in our last six games and in most of those matches, we took the lead. Unfortunately, sometimes the players collapse mentally, especially when the other team puts a bit of pressure on them. "We will try to solve this problem through training and advising the players. It is a matter of time I think. Hopefully, from the next match the team will get a bit of chance and win the game."

arizvi@thenational.ae