Zoran Mamic aiming to make history against Real Madrid as Al-Ain fairytale goes on

Zoran Mamic’s Al-Ain side pulled off a remarkable penalty-shootout victory over South American champions River Plate on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018

Zoran Mamic aiming to make history against Real Madrid as Al-Ain fairytale goes on

LONDON: Al-Ain’s win over River Plate in the FIFA Club World Cup semifinal was a historic one.
Zoran Mamic’s side pulled off a remarkable penalty-shootout victory over South American champions River Plate on Tuesday.
It was a victory that even prompted praise from the UAE leadership — including Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan, who took to Twitter to hail the achievement.
And for Mamic himself, he called it the “biggest result in the history of the country and Al-Ain.”
The Croatian coach is hoping that in Saturday’s final against Real Madrid that he can lead his team one better than his countrymen in this year’s World Cup final.
“I hope not to be the Croatia of this World Cup because I hope to do better. They lost the final and I want to win it,” Mamic said.
“Maybe it’s something an Emirati must say. I’ve been in this country for a couple of years, but I think yes, that we are perhaps looking at the greatest success in football in this country. I’m proud to be part of this success. I hope the best is yet to come.
“I am very happy and very proud, I am proud to be part of this success. For the first time in our history we won the double last season, now we are through to the final of the Club World Cup,” he added.

But Mamic is under no illusions as to how tough the task ahead is for his Al-Ain team.
“We showed that in football anything is possible, when you fight, when you respect each other, when you support each other,” he said.
“They deserve to enjoy this moment. But we have in front of us four days for recovery.
“We have to use these four days in the best possible way, because it will be very, very hard for us.”
And for his River Plate counterpart, Marcelo Gallardo, it was a humbling loss and he said his team lacked the focus needed for the game, especially coming after their huge victory over Boca in the Copa Libertadores.
“The issue was our level of concentration against a rival that on paper was inferior,” Gallardo said. “It was a dangerous match for us and when we let down our guard they were able to tie.
“But the party must continue because what we achieved (against Boca) was historic.”


Coronavirus forces fan ban at Italian football games

Updated 25 February 2020

Coronavirus forces fan ban at Italian football games

  • The Europa League game between Inter Milan and Ludogorets on Thursday will be affected
  • Italy reported its fifth death from the virus on Monday and it has the most confirmed cases in Europe

ROME: Upcoming matches in Italian Serie A and the Europa League will be played behind closed doors to combat the spread of coronavirus, the Italian sports minister announced on Monday evening.
“Following the demands of the sports world and knowing that the ban on sporting events open to the public remains in force in six regions of northern Italy, we have agreed to the holding of matches behind closed doors,” said Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora after a meeting of the Council of Ministers.
The Europa League game between Inter Milan and Ludogorets on Thursday will be affected, but the minister did not specify which Serie A matches at the weekend would be included in the ban.
There are six games in the regions he mentioned, including the clash on Sunday evening between leader Juventus and third-place Inter.
Italy reported its fifth death from the virus on Monday and it has the most confirmed cases in Europe.
Napoli’s Champions League match against Barcelona on Tuesday is not at risk.
The alternative to banning fans is to postpone games and Gabriele Gravina, the president of the Italian Football League made clear earlier in the day that he was opposed to thats.
“We have made an official request to Health Minister Roberto Speranza to have this game played behind closed doors,” Gravina told the press. “We expect a quick response, but we have been told that the outcome will be positive.”