By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Sadd are in revenge mode as they seek to make amends for their upset loss to Uzbekistan’s Nasaf last week when they clash in their AFC Champions League return clash at the Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Stadium today.
Azizjon Ganiev’s penalty just after the hour secured a 1-0 victory for Nasaf in the southern Uzbekistan city Qarshi as the hosts recorded back-to-back home wins to move level on points with the Qatari team and Iran’s Persepolis.
The 2011 AFC Champions League winners had won their opening two games in Group C but missed the opportunity to go six points clear of Nasaf and now look like being in a three-way battle for the two last 16 qualification spots.
But today in front of their home fans Al Sadd would be a different proposition as they would also be keen to bounce back from their defeat to Umm Salal in the QNB Stars League, which allowed Al Duhail to secure the domestic title with two matches to spare.
“It was disappointing to lose against Nasaf in the away match and also to Umm Salal in the league. It’s a hectic schedule for teams who are involved in domestic as well as international competitions but we have to somehow cope,” Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira said yesterday.
“But we have to keep our focus and concentrate on the job on hand and try to secure three points which will help us in qualifying for the next phase,” the Portuguese national added.
Baghdad Bounedjah, who has been on a goal-scoring spree ever since he returned from injury a month ago, also expressed his confidence ahead of the match.
“We were unlucky in the first match but we are confident now as the pressure of the league is now off our shoulders. We are confident of winning three points,” the Algerian said.
Saydullo Rakhmatov is suspended for the visitors, who are looking for only their second win away from home in the competition, after he picked up a second booking of the group stage last week.
Meanwhile, Al Wasl will be eliminated from the AFC Champions League if they suffer a fourth successive defeat in today’s game with Group C leaders Persepolis at Zabeel Stadium.
Farshad Ahmadzadeh and Ali Alipour got on the scoresheet as Persepolis claimed a 2-0 victory over Al Wasl in Tehran last week to remain top of the standings at the midway point of the group stage.
The loss was Al Wasl’s third in a row and, realistically, only a win on home soil will keep their hopes of reaching the next phase alive. They will be able to call on Ali Salmin once more after the midfielder served a one-game ban last week.
Persepolis go into the encounter boasting a fine recent record against Emirati opposition, having won their last five games against sides from the UAE, and a sixth victory in succession would leave them in a strong position ahead of the last two rounds of fixtures.
Also today, Al Gharafa take on Saudi side Al Ahli in Jeddah after they salvaged a 1-1 draw in Doha last week following a last-gasp Robert Quijada equaliser.
Al Ahli have now won two and drawn one of their three Group A fixtures and sit three points ahead of second-placed Al Jazira and third-placed Al Gharafa, who are on four points apiece.
Victory for Al Gharafa would move them level on points with Al Ahli opponents and make the group extremely interesting ahead of the final two rounds of fixtures as they aim for a third appearance in the knockout rounds.
Both sides go into the game on the back of wins in their domestic campaigns, with Al Ahli defeating Al Quadisiya 1-0 on Saturday and Al Gharafa running out 3-0 victors over Al Sailiya a day earlier.
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