Al-Ahli still feel confident of AFC Champions League progess despite defeat in Doha

]Al-Sadd's Morteza Pouraliganji (top) and Baghdad Bounedjah (front left) vie for the ball against Al-Ahli's Claudemir de Souza (second top) and Mortaz Hawsawi (second right) during a full-blooded AFC Champions League football clash in Doha. (AFP)
Updated 08 May 2018
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Al-Ahli still feel confident of AFC Champions League progess despite defeat in Doha

  • Al-Ahli lose 2-1 in first leg of last-16 tie
  • But Jeddah outfit have that all-important away goal

Al-Ahli may have lost the first leg of their AFC Champions League round of 16 clash with Al-Sadd in Qatar 2-1 on Monday, but the Saudi Arabians were the happier of the two teams at the end and they believe that a quarter-final spot is within reach.
Al-Ahli, who topped their group unbeaten, were 2-0 down at the break after two goals from Boualem Khoukhi and there was a fear the tie could have been over after the first leg. But the Saudi Arabians rallied in the second half, created numerous chances and pulled one back thanks to a header from Mohanned Aseri. It could turn out to be a vital away goal.
The second leg will take place at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah on Monday when a big crowd is expected — and caretaker coach Fathi Al-Jabal is already looking forward to the test. “We achieved our first objective of scoring a goal away from home,” the Tunisian tactician said in the post-match press conference in Doha. “This could be of great importance in the return leg.”
Al-Ahli had 21 attempts on goal during the 90 minutes compared to 16 from Al-Sadd, which suggests they gave as good as they got in Doha and have the tools to open up the Qataris.
“It was a tough game between two good teams but were conceded the two goals in the first half,” said Al-Jabal. “We came back in the second but luck was not always on our side.”
Despite Al-Ahli’s second-half revival, Al-Sadd almost extended their advantage late in the game and it took two fine saves from Al-Ahli goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais to deny Baghdad Bounedjah and Akram Afif and leave the second leg very much in the balance.
“OK, we lost and this was a negative result but this is only half-time and there is a second game,” Al-Jabal added. “We will play next week in front of our fans and in our stadium. We have enough to overcome the deficit and progress to the next round.”
Jesualdo Ferreira, the Al-Sadd coach, has plenty of experience of knockout football with European giants Benfica and Porto and he feels his side missed a trick in not putting the tie to bed.
“It was not a satisfactory result for us,” Ferreria said. “It was important not to concede a goal but unfortunately we did. I was not happy with our defense today. We could have scored five goals with the number of chances we created. And in the end we were punished.”
The Portuguese boss is expecting a tough game in what is set to be a bouncing atmosphere in Jeddah.
“Now they need just a goal in the return leg to win on aggregate,” he said. “It’s a harsh result and I am very sad because of it. Not just the defenders, the whole team did not defend well. I want to be logical, not pessimistic, but the match in Jeddah will be a very difficult for us.”
Al-Ahli’s domestic season finished last month and they can rest up ahead of the second leg. Al-Sadd, meanwhile, have a big game just three days before the showdown in Jeddah. “We are playing back-to-back matches in different tournaments,” Ferriera said. “We have the Emir Cup semifinal against Duhail on Friday and then we travel to Saudi for the match on Monday. It will be difficult for us.”


Brazil legend Ronaldo attends Arab Club Champions cup final in Al-Ain

Updated 23 min 8 sec ago
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Brazil legend Ronaldo attends Arab Club Champions cup final in Al-Ain

  • The match featured Saudi side Al-Hilal and Etoile Sahel from Tunisia
  • Former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid player photographed with Abu Dhabi crown prince

AL-AIN, UAE: Brazilian football superstar Ronaldo was a special guest at the final of the Arab Club Champions Cup, which was held at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al-Ain.
The former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid player was photographed with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Saudi Arabia’s Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Sports Authority.
The match — featuring Saudi side Al-Hilal and Etoile Sahel from Tunisia — was won 2-1 by the Tunisian team, whose Mohamed Methnani scored an injury time winner to take home the trophy for his side.
The tournament is organized by the Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA) and is contested by elite clubs from the Arab world, including 20 from the Asian Football Confederation and 20 from the Confederation of African Football.
Earlier this week, it was announced by Al-Sheikh that the 2020 edition of the tournament would be named after King Mohamed VI of Morocco.
“I am honored as the President of the Arab Football Federation (to announce) that the second edition of the Arab Champions Cup will bear a name dear to all Arabs, His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God protect him, who honored us with his approval,” Al-Sheikh posted on Tuesday on his official Facebook page.