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Henk ten Cate ‘optimistic’ after rousing Al Jazira win versus Persepolis in the ACL

Al Jazira coach Henk ten Cate was feeling positive about making the 2018 AFC Champions League quarter-finals

Matt Monaghan 2018/05/07

Thrilled boss Henk ten Cate is “optimistic” his Al Jazira charges can travel to Tehran next week and complete their daunting 2018 AFC Champions League mission at Persepolis.

Monday’s rip-roaring round-of-16 opener saw young defender Khalifa Al Hammadi head in during the 96th minute to seal an enlivening 3-2 triumph against the 11-time Persian Gulf Pro League winners.

This followed a controversial 84th minute penalty, scored on the retake by visiting substitute Godwin Mensha to make it 2-2.

“The team showed a lot of energy and it was a good team effort, and a good win for us,” said Ten Cate.

“The winning goal was scored by one of our young players. I’m optimistic following this result.

“I’m sure we are going to score at least one away goal in the second leg. So, we’ll wait and see.

“It was an even match, but we were disappointed when we conceded the first goal from what appeared to be the first cross in the match.

“I’m not disputing the penalty. But, I’m confused why the linesman had his flag up when the referee was in a better position to judge what happened.”

Regrets were plentiful for ex-Al Wahda tactician Branko Ivankovic. His hopes of bettering last term’s run to the semi-finals are in the balance ahead of Monday’s return.

He said: “We made a few mistakes to concede three goals. Obviously, I’m very disappointed with the result.

“We need to win first. Of course, the two away goals will come in handy for us.”

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2018 AFC Champions League ACL Al Jazira Arabian Gulf League Branko Ivankovic Henk ten Cate Persepolis