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'The best is yet to come from Al Wahda in AFC Champions League,' says ten Cate after beating Sharjah


 Sharjah: Al Wahda FSCC head coach Henk ten Cate insists his side has a lot more to offer after they defeated compatriots Sharjah FC 5-4 on penalties in the 2021 AFC Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday.

The Abu Dhabi side opened the scoring in the 56th minute through Syrian striker Omar Khribin but were instantly pegged back with Bernard equalising for the hosts.

The game went all the way to a penalty shootout in which goalkeeper Mohammed Al Shamsi made two saves to guide Al Wahda to their first appearance in the quarter-finals since 2007.

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“Oh what a night! Unbelievable. We believed we were going to the next stage and the whole team was ready to do it,” said Ten Cate.

“You have to play football not only with your legs, but also with your heart and your head. To show character and mentality. I’m very proud of them. Even when you think you are losing it, after missing the first penalty there was still belief, and I could see it in their eyes. I’m very happy, for me, for the supporters and especially for the players who gave their best."

2021 AFC Champions League - Round of 16: Sharjah1 (4)-(5) 1 Al Wahda (AET)

Al Wahda completed the set of the four sides from West Zone who will compete in the quarter-finals, joining Al Hilal SFC, Al Nassr FC and Persepolis FC, and the Dutch coach was adamant his side still have a lot more to offer, regardless of which side they will be drawn against on Friday.

“The best is yet to come. I believe in my team and my players. We are working hard every day; we are progressing every day.

“We should not downplay our team’s ability, this is the 12th game in a row that we didn’t lose across all competitions, this is an extremely good run for us even though it went largely unnoticed, and we are going to continue doing good things.”

In turn, Sharjah head coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari felt a draw at the end of 120 minutes was an inevitable result.

“Congratulations to Al Wahda. It was a difficult match and the weather made it difficult to compete,” said Al Anbari.

“Both teams tired towards the end and it was always going towards a draw. Both teams were very cautious and at the end we came out short on penalties.

“At this stage there is a lot of pressure on the players. We tried in the second half especially after scoring the equaliser but things did not go to plan for us. We will take some positives from our performance here and move on to the domestic league.”

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