It feels great to return to Al Ain: Majidi - GulfToday

It feels great to return to Al Ain: Majidi

Al-Ain-Coach-Juan-Garrido

Al Ain coach Juan Carlos Garrido (right) and his Esteghlal counterpart Farhad Majidi shake hands after the match.

Esteghlal coach Farhad Majidi was full of praise for Al Ain fans on his return to the city where he won the AFC Champions League 16 years ago.

A pacey and clinical striker at his peak, Majidi was a key member of the Al Ain side that lifted the inaugural AFC Champions League in 2002-03.

In the semi-final against China PR’s Dalian Shide, Al Ain had won the first leg at home 4-2, but the Chinese side had clawed the difference, winning 4-2 in Dalian. That is until Majidi received the ball on the edge of the area, dribbled past one defender and finished into the bottom corner to send his side to the final with a 7-6 aggregate score.

“I had great memories here in Al Ain, so it feels great to come back to the city and the club,” said Majidi.

“I would like to thank Al Ain fans for welcoming me back and for everything they gave me during my time here. It feels great to be back, but I am also happy to win.”

On the pitch, the visitors from the Islamic Republic of Iran dominated from start to finish despite Al Ain’s early opener. Mohammad Daneshgar equalised for Esteghlal and Morteza Tabrizi added a second before half-time.

The result could have been heavier had Ayanda Patosi’s 47th minute penalty not been saved by Al Ain goalkeeper Khaled Eisa. The 2-1 victory meant Esteghlal collected four points from two AFC Champions League games since Majidi replaced Winfried Schafer in April.

“It was a very good game for us. The players worked hard and played very well together.

“We had a difficult game in the Iranian Pro League before we travelled to the UAE, and some of the players were tired, but they played amazingly well.”

Esteghlal’s 2019 AFC Champions League campaign, however, is over as the Islamic Republic of Iran side finished third behind Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC and Al Duhail of Qatar.

Meanwhile, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors coach Jose Morais has asked his players to learn the lessons from their 0-0 draw with Buriram United in their final Group G game of the 2019 AFC Champions League as the two-time champions move into the knockout rounds of the Continental championship.

The K League side were unable to break down Buriram’s well-organised back line throughout the 90 minutes at Jeonju World Cup Stadium, but the result mattered little as Morais and his team had already guaranteed themselves top spot in the group.

“We learned some lessons and this is the good aspect of this game,” he said. “We are able to look to the future. We had a chance to face a team that was defending, defending, defending from the first minute and until the last and trying to counter.

“We could have scored goals at any moment but we had a very good game. I think it was a quality game and a game where we tried to find solutions to score goals. We found some very good solutions but we didn’t score and in the future I hope we can score goals in games like this.”