Al Ain veteran Ismail Ahmed believes Arabian Gulf League title race isn't sewn up despite Al Wahda win

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Al Ain veteran Ismail Ahmed (l) in action against Al Wahda (PLC).

Veteran Al Ain centre-back Ismail Ahmed is fully aware victory in the top-of-the-table clash against Al Wahda was only one “important step” on the way to reclaiming the Arabian Gulf League-title.

Thursday’s pulsating summit meeting saw the Boss race into a two-goal lead, before Hungary winger Balazs Dzsudzsak’s pair of long-range drives levelled things up at 2-2. But the UAE’s most-decorated club remained unflustered as they chase a first trophy since

August 2015, a quartet of further strikes following against bedraggled opponents who eventually finished with nine men.

A four-point lead with four games left is significant. Yet, 34-year-old Ahmed knows huge hurdles are left to clear.

“Al Wahda is a great team and we respect this club and its fans,” said the three-time AGL champion.

“Losses in football are always coming, regardless of the outcome of this confrontation. But the most important thing for us was to get the three points and win.

“It is only an important step along the way on our challenge to compete for the title and we still have four matches left. Each one will be more important than the other, so I demand the fans provide greater support in the coming stages.”

Priorities for Zoran Mamic’s men now immediately switch to bringing life into their 2018 AFC Champions League-campaign. Both matches in Group D have been drawn thus far, meaning victory is a must when ex-coach Winfried Schafer brings Iran’s Esteghlal to Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.

“Winning and losing is normal in the football world,” said Egypt midfielder Hussein El Shahat, who produced a fine assist for Marcus Berg’s opener versus Wahda and later scored a seventh league goal of a productive mid-season loan from Misr lel-Makkasa.

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“We lost in the 17th round to Sharjah and we returned in the last round against Al Wahda, but the most important thing is to always win the three points.

“The fans in the stands gave the players a strong motivation on the pitch to deliver the best performance and I want to give a few words of thanks to the fans of the club.

“The match against Al Wahda is over for us and we are thinking only about facing Esteghlal.”

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