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‘The excuses of the losers’: Al-Hilal manager Jorge Jesus dismisses attempts to detract from club’s world record

RIYADH: Al-Hilal manager Jorge Jesus has described any attempts to detract from the Roshn Saudi League leaders’ world football consecutive win record as “the excuses of the losers.”

A 2-1 victory against Damac at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh on Saturday earned Al-Hilal their 29th successive triumph, two more than the previous record for wins by a top-tier side in world football.

When Domagoj Antolic equalized in the 86th minute, however, after Salem Al-Dawsari’s opening goal seven minutes earlier, it appeared that Damac would once again thwart Al-Hilal this season. The last time the Roshn Saudi League leaders did not win a match in any competition was the 1-1 draw at Damac on Sept. 21.

But minutes after Damac’s Dhari Al-Anazi was shown a straight red card for serious foul play, an injury-time header by Michael regained Al-Hilal’s 12-point advantage at the top of the table.

Speaking at the post-match press conference and addressing social media campaigns attempting to diminish the club’s achievements, Jesus strongly refuted any suggestions that Al-Hilal’s world win record was anything but fully merited.

“How will you speak about any kind of referee influence or some other exterior hand trying to help Al-Hilal if you speak about 37 games without losses and 29 consecutive record matches of victory?” he said. “If there’s something that helps achieve this, it’s the Hilal fans, the Hilal abilities, and the Hilal group work that has enabled us to arrive at this level today.

“All the proof is that Hilal have (shown) they are superior against their opponents in a tactical, technical, and group-level manner. We won because we were always better than our opponents. I call it the excuses of the weak, the excuses of the losers.

“They will try to find excuses saying it’s the referee and all these kinds of things that try to help Hilal or even show low value for what Hilal has done until now. On the contrary, it’s a kind of proof that Hilal was always better than our opponents on the field and their only way to try and stop Hilal is by using the excuses of the losers.”

The Portuguese coach said he believed the decision to send off Al-Anazi — for what appeared to be a stamp on the back of Michael’s heel — was correct but was confident his team would have won the match regardless.

“The red card did not have a direct influence on the result of the match because we were better,” said Jesus. “No doubt it was a clear red card, but nothing specifically from that helped us win the match. We won because we were better, and we were on our way to win the match.”

While disappointed with the outcome of proceedings, Damac manager Cosmin Contra, who played for AC Milan and Atletico Madrid in a distinguished career and earned 73 caps for Romania, said there were positives to take from his team’s performance.

“We have shown we play very good football and can compete against every team in Saudi,” he said. “Even though we are a team with a modest budget, we have managed to put together a team that plays really good football.”

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