Al Wahda look to carry on winning momentum at ACL - GulfToday

Al Wahda look to carry on winning momentum at ACL

Wahda

Al Wahda will have a psychological advantage, having beaten Al Rayyan in the last match.

Al Wahda will look to extend their 2019 AFC Champions League winning run to three matches in a row as they host Qatar’s Al Rayyan on Monday.

The Emirati side recovered from a 2-0 defeat to PFC Lokomotiv on the opening matchday to go on and win their two subsequent games.

A 4-1 hammering of Al Ittihad was followed by a hard-fought 2-1 win against Al Rayyan in Doha.

Standing out for Al Wahda has been Brazilian winger Leonardo, who netted three goals in as many matches so far, including an added time winner in the reverse fixture two weeks ago.

Al Rayyan on the other side have been in mixed form, appearing off the pace in their 5-1 Matchday One defeat to Al Ittihad, then overcoming Lokomotiv 2-1, before losing again against their Monday opponents.

Both sides will be focused on continental football, having slipped off the title race in their respective domestic leagues. Al Wahda are fifth in the UAE Pro League while Al Rayyan are fourth in the Qatar Stars League.

Meanwhile, leading Group D and yet to lose a game in the 2019 AFC Champions League, Pakhtakor travel to Qatar to face second-placed Al Sadd on Monday.

A high-scoring affair in Tashkent a fortnight ago ended in a 2-2 draw, with Spanish midfielder Xavi bagging a brace for Al Sadd. The result kept Pakhtakor at the top of the group with five points, while Al Sadd trail by a point and a place.

A win against Al Sadd can put Pakhtakor a step closer to qualifying to the AFC Champions League knock-out stage for the first time in nine years, while three points for the Qataris can put them on track to reaching the Round of 16 for the fourth time in the past six years.

Domestically, both teams are top of their leagues, albeit at contrasting ends of the season. Al Sadd have already secured the Qatar Stars League title with a game to spare, while Pakhtakor remain unbeaten with 13 points from their first five games of the Uzbek Super League.

The two sides met in the 2011 AFC Champions League group stage, with Al Sadd winning 2-1 in Doha and the two sides playing out a 1-1 draw in Tashkent.

The Qatari side went on to lift the title that year.

Two weeks after Persepolis eased to a 2-0 win against Al Ahli at Zabeel Stadium, the two sides meet again just a few miles to the north at Al Maktoum Stadium.

Last year’s AFC Champions League finalists and the 2012 runners-up face-off on Matchday Four of Group D on Monday. They find themselves occupying third and fourth place respectively.

Al Ahli come into the match with a new boss at the helm after Uruguayan manager Jorge Fossati was dismissed less than three months after being appointed.

Youssef Anbar, the new coach, started his reign with a 3-2 win over Al Wehda in the Saudi Pro League and will hope his continental debut is equally positive.

Persepolis, on the other side, hope their slow start to the AFC Champions League campaign is behind them, having recovered from collecting one point in their first two games with the win over Al Ahli on Matchday Three.

Elsewhere, PFC Lokomotiv will aim to stay in the race for qualification places when they host Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad on Matchday Four of the 2019 AFC Champions League Group B on Monday.

Despite fighting back from two goals down to equalise in the second half, Lokomotiv fell to a 3-2 defeat in the reverse fixture with Fahad Al Muwallad netting the winning goal from the spot in added time.

The result left the Uzbek side bottom of the group with three points, while two-time champions Al Ittihad are level with group leaders Al Wahda on six points each, but are second on head-to-head record.

Having been embroiled in a relegation battle domestically this season, Al Ittihad go into Monday’s encounter buoyed by a 2-0 win over Al Ittifaq that saw them climb to 11th place, three points afloat of the drop zone.

Lokomotiv on the other side are in second place domestically, five weeks into the start of the Uzbekistan Super League season start. Another defeat to Al Ittihad on Monday, would however, leave their continental hopes hanging by a thread.