For Mirel Radoi, the Al Ain http://www.thenational.ae/sport/al-ain midfielder, winning the President’s Cup was the season’s saving grace.
“We can say that because we started the season badly and ended on a high note,” he said. “So winning the President’s Cup saved the year for us.”
It was Al Ain’s first win over Al Ahli http://www.thenational.ae/sport/al-ahli and their former coach Cosmin Olaroiu in four meetings this season.
They also enjoyed their first success over Al Jazira in both legs in the Asian Champions League round of 16.
After a forgettable start, it was a memorable turnaround.
“To be honest, we don’t know the secret, but tonight we had a small advantage because Ahli haven’t been playing any official matches for more than 20 days,” Radoi said when asked if new manager Zltako Dalic had made the difference.
“We have been playing in the ACL round 16 over two legs until last week, and we had the momentum on our side.”
Ahmed Abdullah, the former Al Ain player and now the assistant coach, said Dalic played a cornerstone role in rebuilding the side.
“He convinced the players that they were made of sterner stuff and had everything in them to win trophies,” Abdullah said.
“He made them believe that they can do more than what they were doing.
“This Al Ain team, at least 90 per cent of the players were the same that won the league two years in a row.
“We had a poor start to the season and that didn’t go well for us. We all know the reason, as we had to change the coaches and the players were confused and de-motivated. Zlatko’s arrival changed all that.”
“With Zlatko, we can now take this momentum forward for the next season. It was a dream end for us.
“Winning the President’s Cup means a lot to us after the difficult start.”
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