Zoran Mamic: Al Ain must now maintain 'higher levels' reached at Fifa Club World Cup

Croatian pleased with his side despite falling short in final to Real Madrid on Saturday in Abu Dhabi

Al-Ain's coach Zoran Mamic (L) reacts during the Final match in the FIFA Club World Cup football competition between Real Madrid and Al-Ain at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, on December 22, 2018.  / AFP / Giuseppe CACACE
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Al Ain manager Zoran Mamic said it was vital that the club and the players built on their success at the Fifa Club World Cup.

The Arabian Gulf League champions proved to be the surprise package of the tournament as they got past Team Wellington, Esperance de Tunis and River Plate to reach the final.

Although they were beaten in Saturday's showpiece by Real Madrid 4-1, Mamic said that now his squad had shown what they were capable of it was important they took the form demonstrated over the past 10 days into their domestic fixtures as they seek to retain their league title.

They are three points behind leaders Sharjah, albeit with a game in hand, and Mamic said: "Now this is history for us because we have to forget this tournament and come back to reality and prepare for the domestic competitions.


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“The biggest plus is the team believed they can make good results and for me as a coach I was able to see the players carry out the instructions of the technical staff.

“The players also know they can now play at the higher levels. It’s good for them and good for me to know there is quality in the team. There are many pluses we can take forward.”

Mamic admitted that having had to go to extra time and penalties to see off Wellington and River Plate that the Real game was one too many for his tired players.

Although they fought hard, they were outclassed by the European champions as goals from Luka Modric, Marcos Llorente, Sergio Ramos and an own goal from Yahia Nader sank them, with Tsukasa Shiotani's late header serving only as a consolation goal.

"I think at the end we played a good tournament," he said. "It was very hard for us as we had to play four games in 10 days. We didn't have enough power to make life difficult for Real.

"We had some chances of good situations in the first half, especially Hussein El Shahat, he could have earned a penalty. But we didn't use and at this level you have to win those chances."

Al Ain's success in the tournament has lifted Mamic's profile, but while acknowledging that he wanted to manage in Europe again, having had a stint at Dinamo Zagreb between 2013-16, the Croatian said he had no intentions of leaving the Garden City club anytime soon.

“It’s no secret my dream is to be a manager in Europe," he said. "But I’m here now and very happy here. I’m thankful to Al Ain to be part of this great club, to be the coach of one of the biggest teams in the region.”

"Of course in the future I don't know what will happen. It's always a dream for any player or manager to move to bigger clubs. I was a player in Germany for nine years and I speak German, and maybe there will be an opportunity, but I don't know."