Al-Ain coach praises side's fighting spirit and backs them for more FIFA Club World Cup glory

The relief on the Al-Ain players' faces was obvious for all to see. (AFC)
Updated 13 December 2018
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Al-Ain coach praises side's fighting spirit and backs them for more FIFA Club World Cup glory

LONDON: Zoran Mamic praised his Al-Ain players’ grit and determination after they came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat Team Wellington on penalties in the FIFA World Club Cup.
Playing at home “The Boss” looked anything but menacing, as the amateurs from New Zealand took a shock three-goal lead after 44 minutes. But strikes from Tsukasa Shiotani and Tongo Doumbia gave the hosts hope. Then substitute Marcus Berg came off the bench to grab the equalizer with just five minutes to go to set up extra-time. Two tired teams were unable to force a winner in the extra 30 minutes and Al-Ain held their nerve to win the shootout 4-3.
Mamic’s men were supposed to brush past the Kiwis, but the Al-Ain coach said the manner of the win could stand them in good stead going into the quarterfinals and possibly beyond.
“I am so proud of my players and their determination and fighting spirit that led them to achieve the desired goal and qualify for the quarterfinal stage when they were able to beat the visiting team, New Zealand’s Team Wellington,” Zoran said.
“We missed the factors of concentration and confidence in certain parts of the match, giving the opponent the chance to take the lead by three clean goals. However, Shiotani’s goal in the last minutes of the first half gave us the push and the power to return to the match and the team’s reaction was up to expectations.”
The home side now face Tunisian side Esperance Sportive de Tunis at their Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium tomorrow, knowing they will have to play much better to stand a chance of playing Real Madrid in the last-four.
Esperance are making their first appearance at the tournament since 2011 and are all too aware that Al-Ain will pose a big threat to their dream of facing the Spanish giants.
“Without a doubt Al-Ain will have a lot of supporters in the stands and that will give them a boost … it will be a tough match.”
For Team Wellington it was a case of what might have been. While they were gutted to let slip the three-goal advantage Aaron Clapham said he and his teammates could hold their heads up high.
“It’s a mixture of disappointment and pride,” the midfielder said. “I’m really proud of the team – everyone involved. It’s heart-breaking to lose on penalties. But we’re really proud of the way we played.”


Green triple-double fuels Warriors’ comeback win

Updated 19 May 2019
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Green triple-double fuels Warriors’ comeback win

  • The Golden State Warriors rallied for a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland
  • The two-time defending champion Warriors trailed by as many as 18 in the second quarter

LOS ANGELES: Draymond Green exploded for a seventh career playoff triple-double Saturday as the Golden State Warriors rallied for a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland and a 3-0 lead in the NBA Western Conference finals.
The two-time defending champion Warriors trailed by as many as 18 in the second quarter, but with Green driving them they produced another dominant third period to seize control of the contest and the series.
No team has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win an NBA playoff series. The Trail Blazers will try to fend off elimination when they host game four on Monday.
Green scored 20 points with 13 rebounds and 12 assists, keeping the Warriors afloat in the first half before superstar Stephen Curry came alive with 21 of his 36 points after the interval.
“There aren’t many guys in the game that can (affect both ends of the floor),” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Green beforehand. “Draymond can do both.”
His intensity was on display on both ends of the court, and on the sidelines as he exhorted teammates to keep pushing.
Klay Thompson added 19 points for the Warriors, who were again without injured star Kevin Durant.
“All my teammates, my coaches have been telling me, ‘Draymond, get to the hole, be aggressive,’” Green said of his mindset.
“We’ve got guys out there, Steph, Klay and those guys who draw a lot of attention, so it’s on me to do my job and come through for those guys.”
CJ McCollum led Portland with 23 points. Damian Lillard, relentlessly double-teamed by the Warriors, added 19 points.
Center Meyers Leonard, making just his third start of the season, finished with 16 points.
Leonard made the most of his opportunity early, connecting on five of seven shots from the field in the first half on the way to 13 points.
The Trail Blazers, energized in front of a rowdy home crowd at the Moda Center, quickly built a 10-point lead before the Warriors trimmed it to two — 29-27 — at the end of the first quarter.
But the Blazers kept the pressure on, stretching the lead to 18 in the second quarter.
A steal by Lillard produced a thunderous dunk from Leonard, then Portland’s Seth Curry stole the ball from his superstar brother Stephen and raced for a three-pointer that made it 60-42 with 2:28 remaining in the first half.
Portland took a 66-53 lead into the locker room, but the Warriors responded with a monster third quarter, using a 22-6 scoring run to take their first lead of the game, 77-76 on a layup by Kevin Looney — assisted by Green.
Golden State out-scored Portland 29-13 in the quarter to lead by three heading into the final frame.
The Warriors pushed the lead to 11 with 4:51 remaining and the Trail Blazers wouldn’t get the deficit below eight from there.