Walter Zenga praises youngsters despite Al Nasr losing to Al Ahli in AFC Champions League
Al Nasr coach Walter Zenga praised his youngsters for playing with pride despite the Blues losing ground in their quest for a spot in the knockout phase of the AFC Champions League.
A second defeat in three group games so far – last night's 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli – has left Zenga's men in third place, but the Italian saluted his youngsters who stepped in to replace Luca Toni, Mark Bresciano and Linardo Lima, who were forced to sit out due to injuries.
Amara Diane pulled one back for the hosts, and Zenga said: “We started too shy and then came back into the game and my best compliments to the game for the younger players like Younus Ahmad and Jamal Ibrahim.
“The younger players did everything they could for the club we are still in line to qualify and we go to Jeddah to win and to take back what we lost.
“Our younger players showed they have heart, passion and they are proud. We are sad about losing the game and we don't want to say things about other things that happened in the game, but this is football. Our pride is now our younger players and everybody saw they are the future not only for this club and this country.”
The win took Ahli from the bottom in Group C up to second and coach Karel Jarolim was thankful, Nasr failed to find the target a second time.
“We want to continue in the ACL so we wanted to win this match. We were lively and strong at the start and scored early. Nasr tried to hit back through counter attacks, but were unsuccessful. We knew they would attack in the second half and so we played defensively. They scored once, but thank God they weren't able to score more, so we could keep our advantage,” Jarolim said.
Asked if he felt Nasr would be stronger if Bresciano, Toni and Lima returned for the home match in Jeddah, Jarolim added: “We too were missing a few players, but now we have two important matches in Saudi and are not thinking about the Nasr match.”