DUBAI: Al-Wehdat coach Abdullah Abu Zema believes his team’s fighting spirit was the key behind the Jordanian side’s 2-1 win over Al-Nassr of Saudi Arabia in the 2021 AFC Champions League on Monday.
In the Group D Matchday Five tie at the King Saud University Stadium, Al-Wehdat took a two-goal lead through Ahmad Zreik just before the break and Abdou N’Diaye on 72 minutes, with Abderrazak Hamdallah’s penalty in added time barely a consolation for last year’s semi-finalists.
Not only did the result dent Al-Nassr’s hopes of progress to the knockout stages, but it also meant that Al-Wehdat marked their debut campaign in the league with a historic win against one of the continent’s traditional powerhouses.
An ecstatic Abu Zema paid tribute to his players in achieving their first victory in the competition.
“We played a big match with great fighting spirit and commitment during the 90 minutes,” the AFC official website reported the Jordanian coach saying. “The players gave their best despite the fact that they were tired.”
“We needed this victory tonight as we had played well in the previous matches but without any positive results. I hope we can win our last match (against Iran’s Foolad Khouzestan) and get to seven points,” Abu Zema added.
“The love of the players for the club and their big desire was behind this victory. It was an important result because we were playing against a big team like Al-Nassr.”
Al-Nassr head coach Mano Menezes, following positive performances in previous matches, said the defeat was unexpected but a fair reflection of how the match had played out.
“It was an unexpected result and I believe that it was close to the performance of the two teams,” said the Brazilian. “We failed to control the match from the start and we had spaces but we couldn’t take advantage.
“We were without several key players and this affected us. We improved in the second half but our task became harder when we conceded the second goal,” Menezes said. “Our opponents had a very good match while it wasn’t our day. We lost five points against the last team in the group which shows that the competition is very difficult.”
Al Nassr’s fate is in their own hands. They will win the group and advance to the next round if they defeat leaders Al-Sadd of Qatar in their final match on Thursday. Al-Wehdat play Foolad the same night.