Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic has brushed aside the uproar caused by his side controversially earning three first-half penalties and declared “history will only recognise the winner” after a pivotal 2-1 triumph against enraged Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia in the 2018 AFC Champions League.
A dramatic opening period at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium saw exiled UAE superstar Omar Abdulrahman miss from 12 yards and prolific Sweden centre forward Marcus Berg decisively convert twice.
Monday’s decisions from Chinese referee Ma Ning helped eliminate the 2017 edition’s runners-up. It also ended a four-match spell of draws in this year’s competition for the Boss, who must now avoid defeat at Qatar’s Al Rayyan to progress into the knockouts when Group D winds up on April 16.
“I have not seen the match on TV yet,” said Mamic, whose troops have earned five penalties in the opening stage.
“Still, from my position I saw that they were correct and I believe that it is the referee who was so close and saw the violation as a result of tackling my players. At any rate, if there are mistakes, they are still part of football.
“History will only recognise the winner and tomorrow nobody will mention the referee.”
A forced observer at the Hazza was new Egypt cap Hussein El Shahat. The 26-year-old watched on from behind the dugout after an ankle knock incurred during March 17’s 3-2 victory at Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf League was aggravated on international duty.
Mamic remained hopeful the champions elect will be able to count on the midfielder for Friday’s resumption against lowly Dibba Al Fujairah.
He said: “We hope to have him on-board in the coming match against Dibba. El Shahat had a kick on his ankle during our recent match against Al Jazira and after joining Egypt’s national team, he was hit again in the same place. Currently, he’s enrolled in a rehabilitation programme.”
Al Ain boast a four-point lead over Al Wahda, with just three games left.
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