It feels great to return to Al Ain, says Majidi
Al Ain: Esteghlal coach Farhad Majidi was full of praise for Al Ain fans on his return to the city where he won the AFC Champions League 16 years ago.
A pacey and clinical striker at his peak, Majidi was a key member of the Al Ain side that lifted the inaugural AFC Champions League in 2002-03.
In the semi-final against China PR’s Dalian Shide, Al Ain had won the first leg at home 4-2, but the Chinese side had clawed the difference, winning 4-2 in Dalian. That is until Majidi received the ball on the edge of the area, dribbled past one defender and finished into the bottom corner to send his side to the final with a 7-6 aggregate score.
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“I had great memories here in Al Ain, so it feels great to come back to the city and the club,” said Majidi.
“I would like to thank Al Ain fans for welcoming me back and for everything they gave me during my time here. It feels great to be back, but I am also happy to win.”
On the pitch, the visitors from the Islamic Republic of Iran dominated from start to finish despite Al Ain’s early opener. Mohammad Daneshgar equalised for Esteghlal and Morteza Tabrizi added a second before half-time.
The result could have been heavier had Ayanda Patosi’s 47th minute penalty not been saved by Al Ain goalkeeper Khaled Eisa. The 2-1 victory meant Esteghlal collected four points from two AFC Champions League games since Majidi replaced Winfried Schafer in April.
“It was a very good game for us. The players worked hard and played very well together.
“We had a difficult game in the Iranian Pro League before we travelled to the UAE, and some of the players were tired, but they played amazingly well."
Esteghlal's 2019 AFC Champions League campaign, however, is over as the Islamic Republic of Iran side finished third behind Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal SFC and Al Duhail of Qatar.
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