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Draw with Esteghlal a boost for Al Shorta, says head coach Ilic

Erbil: Al Shorta head coach Aleksandar Ilic was satisfied despite having to settle for a share of the points with Esteghlal FC in their 2020 AFC Champions League Group A tie on Monday.

Hussam Kadhim put the ball into his own net in the first half to give Islamic Republic of Iran's Esteghlal the lead at Franso Hariri Stadium but Ali Fayez salvaged a point for the home team from the penalty spot three minutes into the second half.

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Serbian Ilic said the result was not bad for his side as Al Shorta hadn't enjoyed a good buildup to the tie.

“We were hoping to win against Esteghlal but the draw is not bad,” said Ilic. “Taking into consideration the preparations that we had, the point will motivate us to aim for better results.”

Group A - MD1: Al Shorta 1-1 Esteghlal FC

“I’m happy with the performance of the players who followed the plan that we had,” he added. “They managed to stop the threat of one of the best Iranian teams.

“We will now forget this match and start preparing for the next tie against Al Wahda, who are a strong team as well.”

Al Shorta will play UAE side Al Wahda - who opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli Saudi FC - next week.

Esteghlal FC head coach Farhad Majidi said the heavy schedule had taken a toll on his team.

“I’m not happy with the result but I’m very pleased with the effort of my players. Given the fact that they had played some tough games in the last seven days, they were great,” said Majidi.

“We had to rest some players because the team played four tough matches in the last seven days,” explained the 43-year-old coach. “Hopefully we can have a better performance in the next match and get the three points.”

Esteghlal will face Al Ahli next week.

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