Al Ain's stature "demands" success, says Boss coach Zoran Mamic after AGL title triumph

Matt Jones - Editor 22:10 22/04/2018
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Zoran Mamic says the stature and history of Al Ain demands that titles be won regularly after the Croatian crafted a first trophy for the club in a barren spell lasting nearly three years.

The Boss banished the feeling of an empty 32 months without a trophy, however, by thrashing Al Nasr 4-0 on Saturday to lift a first Arabian Gulf League title in three years.

It was a 13th top-flight UAE title overall – extending their record to six over Al Wasl and Al Ahli (now Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club), both of whom have seven titles apiece.

It was a first trophy for Mamic in the Garden City – since he took over from compatriot Zlatko Dalic in January 2017. And it is a triumph that will have given him huge satisfaction and lifted a weighty burden that perhaps has loomed over his tenure so far.

The Boss bossed the AGL from 2012-15, during which they won three of four titles, but they had been left empty-handed the last two years as Ahli and Al Jazira tasted glory.

The 2015 Arabian Gulf Super Cup was the last piece of silverware they claimed in August 2015, and Mamic knows that is too long a gap without success for a club of Al Ain’s stature and history.

“Al Ain is a big club. They need to be champions and winning titles and I am very, very happy. This is what I talked to the players about before the game today,” said Mamic after the Nasr match.

Zoran Mamic is hoisted high by his players.

Zoran Mamic is hoisted high by his players.

“From the beginning of the season we lose only one match. It’s a problem it’s not a long league, only 22 games, so you cannot make too many mistakes.

“We didn’t do this and at the end I think we deserve to be champions. We show the best football, score the most goals and I am proud of my players and the club. Everybody brings something to the success, down to the people who think about the pitch and our clothes.”

Mamic celebrated winning the AGL crown by dining with friends and family after the match, while he gave his players a day off on Sunday to celebrate a near flawless league campaign.

But they still have the President’s Cup in their sights. They last lifted that in 2013/14 for their sixth title, while defeat to a poor Jazira side two seasons ago will still be on many of the players’ minds.

The Boss are also through to the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League and Mamic insists there won’t be too much rest for anyone.

“We are still not at the end,” he added.

“I told them (before the game) we still have three competitions and we need to be serious and respect all our opponents. Today we can celebrate and be happy, tomorrow we rest and then we prepare for Shabab Al Ahli (the sides meet at Jazira’s Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Wednesday’s President’s Cup semi-final).

“It will be a double preparation day (Monday) as we prepare for them, they are also in good shape but we believe in our quality. I don’t think tonight too much about Al Ahli, from tomorrow I will concentrate on them.”

23 04 uae champions

Despite Saturday’s success, the players are also not ready to relax, with Boss talisman Omar Abdulrahman insisting they are hungry for more silverware.

“We have other competitions that are very important to us, starting with the President’s Cup. It is a wide-open tournament for all of us and we will all be at the top of our focus to win this precious title,” said the 26-year-old maverick.

“This competition is important, and there is also the Champions League at our door. Now we think about the President’s Cup and then Asia.”

Although he has his heart set on what would be a glittering treble, ‘Amoory’ did stop to congratulate everyone associated with Al Ain on the title triumph.

“I congratulate the Al Ain nation everywhere and our big fans on the new title, this is the harvest of a full season of the players’ efforts and that of the management, the fruit of a lot of work between everyone,” said the man named Asian Player of the Year in 2016.

“The season has been tough this year, and all our matches have been very difficult. Everyone is playing very hard against us, and everyone wants to win the league.”

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