Abdulaziz Al Anbari bemoaned Sharjah’s lack of cutting edge in front of goal as they exited the President’s Cup quarter-finals to Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club – with Ante Erceg’s late goal seeing them edge into the semi-finals.
Croatian Erceg picked up a loose defensive header on the edge of the box in the 81st minute and sent a low drive beyond Sharjah stopper Adel Al Hosani to settle a tight game at Ajman’s Shaikh Rashid bin Saeed Stadium.
The win for Mahdi Ali’s side sets up a mouthwatering semi-final showdown, with all four occupying slots inside the Arabian Gulf League’s top five, with Al Ain, Al Wahda and Al Wasl all lying in wait.
King coach Al Anbari was proud of his players in defeat and chose to look ahead to next season.
“The problem of the team in the attack and we will work on them to strengthen the team in the next season, and this does not mean that we are bad this season,” he said.
“Shabab Al Ahli is a team full of young players and top foreigners. Sharjah have provided a good level and we work as a team of players and we will meet the needs of the team for the next season.”
Al Anbari thanked his players for their efforts in defeat, adding: “Cup matches have small details and maybe there was too much caution there. Before the goal we tried to strengthen the offensive side and even after the goal but the result was negative and we accept this.
“The team as a whole bear the result but we should not forget the positive level provided by the players during the game or in previous games. I thank all the players for what they gave, they did a good job.”
Sharjah, who finished ninth last term, have already matched their 2016/17 league total of 26 points, and Al Anbari says he will now give some youngsters some playing time in the remaining two games.
“We have two matches in the league that will be an opportunity for some players, with a focus on the need to achieve positive results so as not to retreat in the table,” he said.
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