Bangkok: Massimo Ficcadenti was relieved that Nagoya Grampus held on for his fifth straight win after Malaysian Johor Darul Ta’zim’s 2-1 loss in Group G of the AFC 2021 Champions League on Sunday.
The victory sealed Nagoya’s progress to the round of 16 with one game to play as the Japanese have 15 points, while the second-placed Pohang Steelers of the Republic of Korea have 10 after being held to 0-. 0 by Thais Ratchaburi FC in Sunday’s previous match.
“Towards the end of the 90 minutes the players looked tired,” said Ficcadenti. “We scored two goals in the first half and missed a lot of chances. Even after they scored, we still had a few opportunities to increase our lead, but we just couldn’t score.
“In the second half the momentum shifted towards the opponents, however, we still created a lot of chances but couldn’t find the target. Actually we should have played better but my players were tired.
“In fact, before the game, I thought we could score at least three to four goals. But that was not the case as the opponents were gaining momentum and scoring a goal and this game was very different from our first meeting with Johor Darul Ta’zim.
“We have played five games so far in the current situation and it has been very difficult for us. Even though we won the game today, we want to stay focused on the next game.
“The players deserve to be applauded because in these conditions, they played very well.
Despite his third loss in a row, head coach Benjamin Mora was impressed with his team for showing a never-say-die attitude against Nagoya.
“Well, I’m very happy with the fighting spirit of the team,” said Mora. “We never conceded defeat, even after scoring two goals. We know Nagoya are a powerful team and they play in the J League so it was going to be tough.
“We rested some players so they could recover and the boys who played today did a really good performance. They did their best. They were pressing, running and distributing the ball. I want to see the stats because I think we’re leading in a lot of areas. “
“It was very difficult to see that we hit the bar, but these are things that we cannot control. Sometimes he hits the bar and he walks in and sometimes he doesn’t.
“But I think controlling the game for 40-50 minutes is a great achievement for us because our style was successful and we just needed two goals but that’s football.
“This result will push the team to fight Ratchaburi with all they have to earn all three points.”