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Al Anbari credits Sharjah character for comeback AFC Champions League win over Air Force Club

Sharjah: Head coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari believes his Sharjah side’s character made the difference as they came back from a goal down to beat Iraq’s Air Force Club 3-2 on Matchday Five of the 2021 AFC Champions League Group B on Monday.

Jefferson Colazos opened the scoring for the Iraqi side before Khalid Bawazir equalised for the hosts and Salem Saleh struck home to put Sharjah in front before the break. Both Colazos and Saleh scored again early in the second half to double their own tallies with Saleh’s header settling the score Sharjah’s way before the hour mark.

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“We are delighted with the win and qualification. It was a game with a lot of physical and mental effort by the players and the impact of the short rest period between the games was evident,” said Al Anbari.

“We played against a team under no pressure, but by coming back we showed the character that we developed throughout the previous games."

2021 AFC Champions League: Air Force Club 2-3 Sharjah

"The substitute players deserve to play, some players need to rest, and others need to get their chance to play in the AFC Champions League, especially as we return to league action just three days after the end of the group stage.

“This format is very difficult and physically demanding on the players and requires squad depth. We were fortunate not to face major injuries during the competition. This is the only way the competition could have been organised given the pandemic.”

Opposite number Ayoub Odisho lamented the injuries suffered but was adamant his side will learn a lot from the experience of playing in the AFC Champions League group stage for the first time in over a decade.

“Today we started very well but conceded some basic mistakes that do not belong to football at this level,” said Odisho.

“We benefited from this experience and from the mistakes we committed and hopefully that should be useful for us in the future. I think the results here will not have a negative impact on us psychologically in the league, the only downside is the injuries we suffered here, some of which are long term.

“Other than that, we will go back with the experience of playing at a higher level and with the desire to learn from our mistakes and wrap up the league title in the final run-in.”

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