Glimmer of hope for Al-Ahli in AFC Champions League clash with Qatar’s Al-Sadd

Al-Sadd's goalkeeper Saad al-Sheeb (C-L) makes a remark towards Al-Ahli's Saleh Mohammed Alamri at the end of the AFC Champions League clash. (AFP)
Updated 14 May 2018
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Glimmer of hope for Al-Ahli in AFC Champions League clash with Qatar’s Al-Sadd

  • Al-Sadd arrived in Saudi Arabia on the back of a disappointing 1-0 loss on Friday to Al-Duhail
  • A week ago in Qatar, Al-Sadd took a two-goal lead inside 30 minutes thanks to a brace from Boualem Khoukhi

JEDDAH: There is good and bad news for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli ahead of their attempt to overcome a 2-1 deficit from the first leg of their 2018 AFC Champions League second round clash with Al-Sadd on Monday in Jeddah.
The Qatari powerhouse arrived in Saudi Arabia on the back of a disappointing 1-0 loss on Friday to Al-Duhail in the semifinals of the Emir Cup but Al Ahli will have to manage without a number of star players.
A week ago in Qatar, Al-Sadd took a two-goal lead inside 30 minutes thanks to a brace from Boualem Khoukhi. Mohannad Aseri headed home early in the second-half to give Al-Ahli an away goal and hope for the second leg.
Aseri has recovered from a back injury to spearhead the attack once again and defender Mu’taz Hawsawi is also available but there is not much other good news for coach Fathi Al-Jabal in terms of available personnel.
Midfielder Ali Awaji is recovering from surgery on a dislocated shoulder sustained in Doha and star Syrian striker Omar Al-Somah is also unavailable. The Jeddah club will be without Tassir Al-Jassim and Saeed Al-Mowalem who are in action with the national team in a pre-World Cup training camp currently taking place in Spain.
“At this stage of the competition, the games are sure to be tough,” Al-Jabal said. “Missing some talented players makes it tougher but there is not much we can do about the players who can’t play, the ones who are available have been training well this week and we are ready.”
The Tunisian tactician preferred to focus on the positives from the first leg and a performance that saw the 2012 finalist disappointed to lose 2-1 despite putting the hosts under plenty of pressure and recording 21 attempts on goal.
“We are looking forward to the game in front of our own fans,” Al-Jabal said. “In the first leg we played well and the scoreline could have been better for us. We have to be patient and I am sure that we will have opportunities to score and we have to make sure that we are strong at the back.”
Al-Ahli will be encouraged by the fact that Al Sadd arrive in Jeddah with the Champions League now their only chance of silverware this season after the loss to Duhail in the Emir Cup.
It was a tough game for the 2011 Asian champions who had to play the entire second half with ten men due to a red card given to star defender Abdulkarim Hassan.
“It has been a difficult few days,” said coach Jesualdo Ferreira who welcomes back defender Pedro Miguel from suspension. “We have a tough schedule with three games in a week. The game with Al Duhail was unfortunate with refereeing decisions playing a big part.”
“Losing the game will affect us in Jeddah but we have what it takes to get the result we need. The previous season was much better for us than this season. Now we have to work very hard to achieve a positive result and move into the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League,” Ferreira added.


Siakam has 30 points, Raptors top Magic 98-93 for 2-1 lead

Updated 20 April 2019
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Siakam has 30 points, Raptors top Magic 98-93 for 2-1 lead

  • Siakam was 13 for 20 from the floor
  • Raptors held Orlando to 36% shooting

ORLANDO, Florida: Pascal Siakam had 30 points and 11 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 16 points and the Toronto Raptors held off the Orlando Magic 98-93 on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference first-round series.
Siakam was 13 for 20 from the floor and the Raptors held Orlando to 36% shooting. Leonard had 10 rebounds, Danny Green had 13 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 12 points and 10 assist.
Terrence Ross led Orlando with 24 points, and Nikola Vucevic shook off a slow start to finish with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Game 4 is Sunday night in Orlando.
The Raptors trailed 61-60 midway through the third, then went on a 16-0 run over the next four minutes to take the lead for good. Siakam and Green were both 3 for 3 during the run, the Magic missed 10 consecutive shots over a span of 6 1/2 minutes and had to play uphill the rest of the way.
That being said, they went down swinging.
Lowry’s 3-pointer with 7:48 left gave Toronto its biggest lead at 86-69. The Magic came flying back, and Ross’ 3-pointer with 41 seconds left got Orlando to 96-93.
Leonard was short with a jumper on the next possession — but the Magic couldn’t control the rebound, and were doomed shortly afterward. Leonard made a pair of free throws with 12.9 seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game again, and that closed the scoring.
Orlando, which finished the regular season by winning 13 of its final 14 home games, was 13 of 44 from 3-point range.
Toronto scored the first 10 points — the last five by Siakam, who was a problem from the outset for the Magic — and led by as many as 11 in the first half.
Orlando got within one on three occasions in the first half, but never got the lead in the opening 24 minutes. Toronto took a 48-45 lead into the break after Ross beat the clock from midcourt at the buzzer.
He took off from the Magic logo and released the ball with about a half-second remaining, it hitting the square on the backboard perfectly and dropping through. Ross never broke stride, watching the ball’s flight as he ran and kept going through the tunnel leading to the Magic locker room.
TIP-INS
Raptors: Toronto had lost four consecutive Game 3s. ... Patrick McCaw (sprained right thumb) was active, but did not play. ... The Raptors are 6-1 in their last seven road games this season. ... Siakam has 73 points and 30 rebounds in the series.
Magic: Among the former Orlando players in the building were Tracy McGrady, Jameer Nelson and Horace Grant. ... Orlando missed three shots at the rim in one third-quarter possession. Vucevic missed at the rim, and Gordon couldn’t convert on two putback tries. ... Attendance was 19,367, the second-most in the Amway Center’s nine-season history.
GOVERNOR SPEAKS
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s first lady Casey DeSantis were in attendance and received Magic “46” jerseys — a nod to his being the 46th governor of the Sunshine State. The governor and Magic CEO Alex Martins spoke pregame about the hope for Orlando to get another All-Star Game soon, though all through 2022 has already been awarded to other Eastern Conference cities — and Milwaukee, another East city, has expressed interest in 2023.
UP NEXT
Game 4 is Sunday night in Orlando.