No one can dispute the Arabian Gulf League champions Al Ain are “the best team in the country” after their 3-0 dismantling of Alvaro Negredo’s floundering Al Nasr, according to coach Zoran Mamic.
The 2017/18 top flight and President’s Cup winners put in an imperious performance on Friday night at Maktoum bin Rashid Stadium.
Goals from Sweden No9 Marcus Berg, Japan utility man Tsukasa Shiotani and improved Brazilian forward Caio made it a perfect three wins from three for the holders, while making it the reverse situation for pointless hosts who hoped to be celebrating the much-anticipated bow of ex-Spain, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Manchester City and Besiktas striker Negredo.
“I do not really care how much we scored and how we came back to Al Ain with the three points,” said Mamic, whose troops next entertain Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club on Friday for one of the calendar’s glamour fixtures.
“The fact is that Al Ain is the best team in the country.
“The reasons for this are many, but I will summarise them to you in two ways.
“The first is the strong personality of all at Al Ain and the capabilities of the team’s best players.
“There are also technical and statistical objects that I do not like talking about as an Al Ain coach.”
A slide tackle from Nasr’s ex-France midfielder Yohan Cabaye unfortunately played Berg in to lash home a second goal in two top-flight appearances.
The lead was doubled on 30 minutes when Shiotani nodded in Caio’s corner, with the latter later converting a 74th-minute penalty.
Negredo then saw his poor spot-kick saved, down the middle, by UAE goalkeeper Khalid Essa to ensure a debut to forget after Tuesday’s move from Besiktas.
Mamic has been engaged in an ongoing row about contact time with his large national team contingent since last month. He believed ample preparation had fuelled this resounding result
He said: “Throughout the game, Al Ain showed a strong fighting spirit, great concentration and intelligence, and deserved to return from the stadium with the full three points.
“I believe that the performance and result of the match is a good step for the team in the title race.
“The difference lies in the preparation period.
“Before the Al Dhafra match, there was not enough time to equip the team after the return of the internationals from the UAE team.
“But before this game, we held five training sessions.”
Sorry Nasr next travel to promoted Ittihad Kalba on Friday.
They are one of only three teams who are yet to avoid defeat in the early weeks of this top-flight campaign.
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