Al Wahda players attend a training session ahead of their ACL match against Al Nassr.
It is still all to play for at Al Nahyan Stadium on Monday as UAE’s Al Wahda go into their home second leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League round of 16 against Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr on the back of a 1-1 draw in Riyadh last week.
A goalless draw will be enough for Al Wahda but keeping a clean sheet against a side that netted 11 goals in the group stage and boast Moroccan goal machine Abderrazak Hamdallah will not be an easy task for goalkeeper Mohammed Al Shamsi and his backline.
Coach Maurice Steijn’s Al Wahda will take confidence from the fact Al Nassr failed to score in their last encounter against an Emirati team in the UAE.
Back in March, Hamdallah and co fired a blank in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Al Wasl in Matchday One of the AFC Champions League Group A.
Veterans Ismael Matar and Hamdan Al Kamali are the only Al Wahda players who were part of the first team set up when they last reached the quarter-finals back in 2007 and the pair have since grown in importance.
For Al Nassr boss Rui Vitoria, Monday’s encounter is an opportunity to enter the club’s history books. A win or a draw with more than one goal a-side would send the Riyadh club into the AFC Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
Al Nassr fans were made to sweat over the availability of their star striker after Hamdallah suffered a head injury in training on Thursday. Concerns were quenched as the 28-year-old was cleared to continue training despite five stitches to his forehead due to a cut just above his right eye.
Al Nassr fans were made to sweat over the availability of their star striker after Hamdallah suffered a head injury in training on Thursday.
Concerns were quenched as the 28-year-old was cleared to continue training despite five stitches to his forehead due to a cut just above his right eye.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad will look to build on last week’s 2-1 home victory when they travel to Doha to take on Islamic Republic of Iran’s Zobahan FC in the second leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 on Monday.
Goals from Luis Jimenez and Ziyad Al Sahafi either side of the half-time break overturned Ghasem Hadadifar’s early goal for Zobahan, earning Al Ittihad an important win last week.
Now, Jose Luis Sierra’s men will aim to complete the job and set up an all-Saudi quarter-final clash with the winners between rivals Al Hilal and Al Ahli.
Zobahan had been unbeaten for six games ahead of their defeat in the first leg, and getting back to winning ways is their only option if they are to advance to the quarter-finals for only the second time since 2011.
Alireza Mansourian’s side have reached the AFC Champions League knockout stage three times in the past four years, but with both their two previous appearances ending in the Round of 16, they will be eager to go one step further before thinking of repeating their runners-up finish from 2010.
Two-time champions Al Ittihad, on the other side, have been away from competing at the business end of the AFC Champions League for a few years, their last quarter-final appearance dating back to 2014.
So, Monday’s match offers an opportunity for Sierra to bring them back to the forefront again. Romarinho scored three times in the group stage, but missed several opportunities in Dubai a week ago.
Should the Brazilian find his scoring boots on Monday, an Al Ittihad goal will further complicate Zobahan’s challenge.
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