Al-Sahafi gives Saudi’s Al Ittihad crucial win over Zob Ahan

Zob Ahan’s Hamid Bou Hamdan, left, vies for the ball with Al Ittihad’s Khaled Al-Sumairi during the AFC Champions League play-off match at the Zabeel stadium in Dubai. (AFP)
Updated 05 August 2019

Al-Sahafi gives Saudi’s Al Ittihad crucial win over Zob Ahan

  • Al Ittihad, who won back-to-back Asian titles in 2004 and 2005, beat Zob Ahan 2-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie at the neutral venue of Al Zabeel Stadium in Dubai
  • Al Ittihad have had a poor run in the Saudi league, finishing 10th, but that hasn’t stopped them from excelling at continental level

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad have one foot in the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League after Ziyad Al-Sahafi’s 72nd-minute goal handed Iran’s Zob Ahan their first defeat in Asia’s premier tournament this year on Monday.
Al Ittihad, who won back-to-back Asian titles in 2004 and 2005, beat Zob Ahan 2-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie at the neutral venue of Al Zabeel Stadium in Dubai.
Al Ittihad have had a poor run in the Saudi league, finishing 10th, but that hasn’t stopped them from excelling at continental level, with Monday’s result keeping them on course for a possible third title.
They are one of four Saudi teams in the last 16, with two each from Qatar and the UAE making up the eight from west Asia who have qualified for the knockout phase of the tournament.
There was precious little to choose between the two teams with the initial minutes producing frantic action as they tried to establish control over the match.
An early goal looked imminent and sure enough it materialized in the seventh minute after Al Ittihad’s Luis Jimenez brought down Mohamed Niknafs as the Iranians mounted pressure on the rival goal.
The resultant free-kick saw Ghasem Hadadifar curl the ball over the Al Ittihad wall, beating goalkeeper Fawaz Al-Qarni all ends up.
But barely had Zobahan’s celebrations died down when Al Ittihad found the equalizer, with Jimenez making amends for his earlier blunder.
Zob Ahan’s Masoud Ebrahimzadeh’s attempted clearance saw the ball hit the crossbar and fall into Jimenez’s path, and the Chilean made no mistake from close for the equalizer in the ninth minute.
Brazilian Romarinho was a constant danger for Zobahan, but saw a couple of chances wasted before the half-hour mark, once hitting the side-netting and later firing straight at the goalkeeper.
After Romarinho had missed another chance, shooting wide when he had only goalkeeper Mohamed Sadeghi to beat in the 60th minute, the Saudi side finally claimed the winner 12 minutes later.
Chilean Carlos Villanueva produced an outstanding cross and Al-Sahafi was in good position to head the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Both teams will clash in the second leg in Doha next week.


Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince organizes flights to carry Al-Hilal fans to Japan for Champions League final

Updated 14 November 2019

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince organizes flights to carry Al-Hilal fans to Japan for Champions League final

  • Al-Hilal secured a 1-0 win over the Japanese club in the first leg on Saturday in Riyadh
  • The crown prince’s decision comes as a result of his support for Saudi Arabian football in the AFC championship

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has ordered four planes to transport Al-Hilal fans to Japan to support the club in their AFC Champions League final second leg match against the Urawa Red Diamonds.

Al-Hilal secured a 1-0 win over the Japanese club in the first leg on Saturday in Riyadh. The return leg is in Saitama, near Tokyo on Nov. 24.

The Saudi Press Agency said the crown prince’s decision comes as a result of his support for Saudi Arabian football in the AFC championship and to boost the morale of the team to seal the title.

The Saudi General Sport Authority have begun to coordinate with Al-Hilal’s administration to arrange for transporting fans to Japan.