Air Force Club coach Basim Qasim said missing striker Hammadi Ahmed in the 2016 AFC Cup semi-final first leg cost them a win against Al Ahed.
Without Ahmed, who was suspended for Tuesday's clash in Doha, the Iraqi side conceded an away goal to Ahed.
After taking the lead in the 24th minute through Zanier Al Medani's strike and going into the break with the one-goal advantage, Air Force Club failed to close out the match. In the 66th minute of the game, Ahed defender Hussein Dakik sealed the equaliser.
Qasim had hinted that Ahmad's absence would affect his team's front line and Air Force Club's performance in their home fixture proved the coach right. The Iraqi side, who dismissed Syria's Al Jaish 5-1 in their quarter-final despite conceding an away goal, lacked intensity in the front.
Notably, Ahmad is the tournament's leading scorer with 14 goals. The Iraqi international had also scored in each of Air Force Club's matches before the semi-final first leg.
Maintaining that their fight is not over yet, Qasim promised a better show in the second leg. Both the teams meet again at the Sports City Stadium in Beirut on 18 October.
"Despite the draw we had tonight, our mission is not over yet as we still hope we can advance to the final," Qasim was quoted as saying by the AFC Cup's official website.
"I promise our fans that we will make things different in the second leg in order to qualify to the final.
"The absence of our forward, Hammadi Ahmad, affected us tonight and we missed him, especially in the front line. Hammadi is a good forward and he has a lot of experience which could have made things different tonight."
Meanwhile, Ahed coach Robert Jaspert said he was happy with his side's performance away from home. The German added he would bank on home support at Beirut to inspire his team into the final of the ongoing tournament.
"The result tonight was fair for the two teams even though we missed several chances to add another goal," Jaspert said.
"Air Force also had some chances to score but they didn't take advantage of these chances which means that the result was fair.
"We had a good match tonight but we will try our best to have a better performance in the second leg in Beirut. We want to take advantage of playing at home and in front of our fans in order to get to the final of the competition."