Al-Nassr will take on Al-Sadd in their final 2021 AFC Champions League Group D fixture knowing only a win tonight at the King Saud University Stadium will guarantee progress to the knockout stages.
Anything else means an anxious wait to see if the Riyadh club is one of the three best second-placed teams.
Al-Sadd of Qatar had moved into top spot with 10 points, two ahead of Al-Nassr, after beating Foolad Khouzestan on Matchday Five when the Saudi club went down to a shock a 2-1 defeat against Al-Wehdat.
“This is the final match and it will be difficult for us, like the previous match against Al-Sadd, and the importance is more because it is decisive in determining who will qualify,” the AFC official website quoted Al-Nassr coach Mano Menezes as saying.
“Our performances in the last five matches were affected by several factors, as we played against teams with different styles, and we were also affected by the fitness demands,” he said.
The former coach of the Brazil national team took over at Al-Nassr earlier this month, tasked with steering the club through its latest continental campaign.
“I took the mission of leading the team for only four matches, and still don’t have enough idea about the team, he said. “We made things harder for ourselves after we lost the last match, but we still have a chance in tomorrow’s match.
“We will miss some more players in this match, but we have good cards to replace them, and we will enter the match with high confidence, and we promise our fans to fight and do our best until the last minute,” added Menezes.
Al-Sadd have won all of their last three matches to top the group. Head coach Xavi Hernández is hoping for a repeat of the team’s 1-0 win over Foolad on Matchday Five, which the Spanish World Cup winner described as their best display yet.
A draw may be enough, but Xavi will be taking no chances and will send his Al-Sadd out to wrap up the group with a win.
“Like all the other matches, we have another final, we need to get the three points in the final match to stay first in the tournament,” he said. “We are leading the group, but we can’t relax, as we are going to play against a strong team who reached the semi-finals last year. But we are ready for the match.
“All the players are ready to play, as there are no injuries or suspensions in the squad. We showed our real performance in the last match, and we want to repeat that against Al-Nassr.”