Al Ain boss Zlatko Dalic was happy to emerge unscathed from his team’s surrender against Bani Yas as he gave run-outs to key returning players ahead of next weekend’s 2016 AFC Champions League final opener.
The weakened Boss looked to be cruising to a 2-0 triumph in the Arabian Gulf Cup on Friday after winger Danilo Asprilla and striker Douglas struck, but were pegged back by late strikes from visiting playmaker Daniel Hernandez and target man Joaquin Larrivey.
This saw UAE goalkeeper Khalid Essa endure a busy night after recovering from a hamstring injury, while international left-back Mohammed Fayez was handed an hour to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday’s landmark clash at South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
“The result was not fair and we were supposed to win this match,” said Dalic, as he prepares to gain a second continental crown for the 2003 winners.
“We saw this as training for some of the players who were absent from participating in the previous period. The technical level shown by goalkeeper Essa was good as he made several saves, especially in the first-half.
“But it is wonderful that the players came out of this meeting without being injured.
“Mohammed Fayez participated for 60 minutes and was then replaced so as not to risk it. We also had to withdraw Caio so as to retain him for the match at Jeonbuk.”
There was joy for opposite number Jose Manuel Gomes, who avoided defeat for the first time in three matches since he took control of the crisis club.
“What was most important was the fact the team showed fighting spirit and proved they are capable of playing strongly against any team,” said the Portuguese coach of bottom-placed Bani, who resume in the Arabian Gulf League at leaders Al Wasl on Friday.
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