Zoran Mamic bemoaned a lack of killer instinct that denied Al Ain the chance at an appearance in consecutive AFC Champions League finals.
The Boss were dumped out of the competition following a 3-0 second-leg rout in Riyadh by Al Hilal – although Mamic felt his side dominated the first half but were undone by wasted chances, while two rapid fire goals from the hosts just before the interval left them with a mountainous task.
“My team played the best football and dominated most of the game,” said the Croat, who saw defenders Tsukusa Shiotani and Mohamed Ahmed both waste good opportunities to open the scoring and silence the King Fahd International Stadium crowd.
“The team could not translate the opportunities they had into goals and if you cannot do that at this stage of the competition, then certainly you will not qualify for the semi-finals.”
Failure to strike an early blow and gain a precious away goal would prove catastrophic for the visiting team when lethal Brazilian playmaker Carlos Eduardo headed and volleyed in from Nicolas Milesi free-kicks within four minutes at the end of the first half.
Al Ain threw caution to the wind after the break and former Porto schemer Eduardo made sealed the Crescent’s passage into the last four by completing his hat-trick 16 minutes from time.
Al Ain were shorn of experienced UAE centre-back Mohanad Salem – sent off in the first leg in the Garden City three weeks ago, as well as fellow suspended defender Khaled Abdulrahman – but Mamic did not see their absences as significant factors.
“I do not think the absences were the cause of the loss, because the opposing team also has absences in their ranks,” said Mamic of Hilal, who were missing Saudi Arabia international Salman Al Faraj.
“The loss is clear and lies in not exploiting the chances that we had to score, in addition to our lack of focus in the second half.
“We did not show the required level in the second half of the game and did not succeed in the implementation of our duties.
“We lacked focus. Certainly, in the second half, we had no choice but to adopt an offensive style and we had to leave spaces in the field. This helped Hilal.”
The same scoreline at home in 2014’s semi-finals helped Hilal into the ACL final that year and coach Ramon Diaz revealed he had every confidence his side would get the job done at home.
“Al Hilal showed great desire to qualify and the team spirit in the game was high,” said the Argentine.
“My team was able to overcome all the circumstances and absences and I do not forget the important role played by the crowd in the match, as everyone contributed to achieve this strong result.”
Although former Paraguay coach Diaz hopes he can deliver his side into another final, he was hoping compatriots Al Ahli Jeddah could overcome Iran’s Persepolis in the other west Asia semi-final last night in order to ensure a Saudi team is guaranteed a final berth.
“I certainly hope to meet a Saudi team so that the Kingdom will have a seat in the Champions League final, so I hope Saudi Arabia qualify in the next phase of the competition,” he added.
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