Sharjah and Tractor players in action during their AFC Champions League match in Sharjah on Saturday.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Hosts Sharjah maintained their grip on the top spot of the Group B in the AFC Champions League despite a draw with Iran’s Tractor on Saturday.
Both the teams shared the spoils after the match ended in a goalless draw. Sharjah have procured four points from two matches with a win and a draw, while three other teams Tractor of Iran, Air Force of Iraq and Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan are yet to open their accounts.
Both the teams looked more in defensive mode as they spurned quite a few chances to convert the opportunities into goals.
Khaled Bawazir, who scored the lone goal in their first match to hand Sharjah a winning start and set the tone for the rest of the tournament, missed a close chance in the first-half.
Talismanic striker Caio also failed to recreate the same magic he is known for as an agile Tractor goalkeeper made a brilliant save.
Sharjah head coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari was full of praise for the stealthy resolve displayed by the hosts in their goalless draw.
“We went into the match with the aim of wining against a strong team like Tractor and collecting all three points to tighten the grip on the top,” said Anbari.
He also predicted tough matches ahead as three stalemates in four matches have heated up the race to book a berth in the next round. In the other match of the day in Group B, Air Force and Pakhtakor also played out a 0-0 draw.
“Today’s results in both the matches have further heated up the race. And I expect more closely-contested encounters in the coming days.
“I hope we continue to play with the same enthusiasm and desire. I hope we can qualify for the round of 16, if we put up the same level of performance. Every team wants to win but considering the quality of the teams in the group, I think this result is commendable.
“I am delighted with the attitude of the players. The way they played and fought until the end to keep the opponents at bay.
“We want to stay focused and play with the same attitude in all upcoming games,” added Anbari, who guided Sharjah to the AGL title in the 2018-19 season.
The 2019-20 season was cancelled due to the pandemic. The cancellation of the league with several rounds to spare prompted the decision to suspend coronation and relegation both, thus Sharjah retained the title.
Meanwhile, Tractor coach Rasoul Khatibi also expressed his satisfaction with the result but reiterated the comment that his team played better.
“Both sides did well, Sharjah played fantastic,” said Khatibi.
“But if there is anything to go by the stats, we had more ball possession, more corners and free-kicks. We had quite a few chances, but we failed to convert them into goals.
“In fact both the teams missed chances maybe we could have done better, but I am happy that we did not concede any goals at least,” he concluded.
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