Shabab Al Ahli’s best yet to come: Nasser - GulfToday

Shabab Al Ahli’s best yet to come: Nasser

Shabab Al Ahli

Goalkeeper Majed Nasser of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai makes a save against Pakhtakor during their AFC Champions League match on Sunday.

Doha: Goalkeeper Majed Nasser is confident of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai FC’s chances following their 0-0 draw with Pakhtakor in Group B of the 2020 AFC Champions League on Sunday.

The draw at the Al Janoub Stadium kept alive Shabab Al Ahli’s knockout stage hopes, with the UAE side having to defeat defending champions Al Hilal SFC and needing Islamic Republic of Iran’s Shahr Khodro FC to deny Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan a win in Wednesday’s final round of Group B matches.

Nasser believes a win against Al Hilal is possible, as Shabab Al Ahli’s form is gradually improving after not having played competitively for six months.

“I want to thank the players for their super performance today - from defence to attack,” said the 36-year-old goalkeeper. “We tried our best and we are happy with the point that we got.”

“Everyone knows that we have lacked competitive football and the AFC Champions League consists the elite clubs of the continent,” he said. “We are improving in terms of our rhythm but we are still not at our normal level.”

Nasser said Shabab Al Ahli are expecting a tough final matchday against Al Hilal, even though the Saudi Pro League champions have been badly hit with players testing positive for COVID-19.

“The next match will be very important for us and for Al Hilal as well,” said Nasser. “It will be a difficult match because our opponents are the defending champions.

“It is true that Al Hilal are going through a difficult period but they are still holding on because Al Hilal are a great club. We will give our best against them and try to perform better than we did tonight.”

Meanwhile, Forward Mazin Fayyadh was left to reflect on missed chances after Al Shorta played to a 1-1 draw against Islamic Republic of Iran’s Esteghlal FC in their 2020 AFC Champions League Group A match on Sunday.

Fayyadh gave Al Shorta the lead in the 25th minute but a series of missed chances cost the Iraqi side heavily after substitute Amir Arsalan Motahari equalised for Esteghlal.

A win would have sealed Al Shorta’s place in the Round of 16 but they now need group winners Al Ahli Saudi FC to deny Esteghlal a win on Wednesday to advance.

“We dominated the first half but missed many scoring chances, We also had opportunities to seal the tie in the second half but failed to take them.

“This is football as you get punished if you don’t take your chances to score goals,” said the 23-year-old forward.

Fayyadh admitted playing three matches in a short period affected the players physically but paid tribute to the fitness coaches who have dealt well with the situation.

“We were affected by the lack of official matches for a period of six months,” he said. “It was very hard for us to play in the AFC Champions League which is more difficult than the local league.

“Add to that the fact that we played three matches in only seven days was very hard for us as players in term of fitness.”


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