El Jaish have a mountain to climb when they take on Iran Pro League runners-up Tractorsazi in their Group A Asian Champions League match in Doha today. The match will be played at Al Rayyan Club at 6.30pm
El Jaish, who are out of the reckoning for the Qatar Stars League title, slumped to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab in their opening game and need a victory on home turf to boost their hopes of progressing in the lucrative tournament.
“We are ready for the match although we are going to play against a team who haven’t lost in their last 10 matches. Tractor have good organisation and we must play very well against them and have a better performance to win the match,” said El Jaish’s Romanian coach Razvan Lucescu.
“We have a lot of motivation to get a good result and we learnt a lot from the first match against Al Shabab as our players gained some experience of the competition and we must start the game well if we want to get a good result.” El Jaish head into the contest after beating Al Wakra 1-0 in the Qatar Stars League at the end of last week, although coach Lucescu will be without striker Abdulqadir Ilyas due to a hamstring injury.
Tractosazi, however, are looking to build on their impressive home win over Al Jazira last month.
Roared on by a 70,000 crowd at Yadegar Emam Stadium, Mehdi Seyed-Salehi, Javad Kazemeyan and Masoud Ebrahimzadeh scored as Antonio Oliveira’s side made the ideal start to their maiden continental campaign.
Coach Oliveira will be without Mohammad Ebrahimi today after the striker was sent-off against Al Jazira, although midfielder Ghasem Dehnavi is available after missing the win in Tabriz due to suspension.
“Our aim is to get a second victory, but this doesn’t mean that the match will be easy as we will be playing away and El Jaish will be trying to make a good comeback after their defeat against Al Shabab,” said Oliveira.
“Winning against Al Jazira gave us a lot of motivation, but the match will be very hard against El Jaish who have good players and they will start the match with an attacking plan and we must be ready to face such a performance.”
Meanwhile, Lekhwiya will take on Saudi Arabia’s Al Ettifaq in a Group B clash in Dammam. Lekhwiya are the only Qatari team to win their opening ACL game, goals by Sebastian Soria and Youssef Mskani giving the QSL title hopefuls a 2-1 victory over Al Shabab of the UAE.
Qatar’s Al Gharafa will be taking on Iran’s Foolad Sepahan in Doha tomorrow, while Al Rayyan will clash with Saudi side Hilal in Riyadh.
Meanwhile, tight security and palpable historical tensions are expected today when Japan’s Vegalta Sendai play China’s Jiangsu Sainty in Nanjing, scene of a brutal wartime massacre by Japanese troops. Thousands of police and security will guard the AFC Champions League fixture, which is believed to be the first senior men’s football match involving a Japanese team in the Chinese city since the atrocities of late 1937 and early 1938.
According to reports the Japanese embassy in Beijing has urged Japanese people living in China to keep a low profile during the game in Nanjing and Wednesday’s clash between Beijing Guoan and Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Up to 13,000 police and security were estimated to have been in place last month when Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande hosted Urawa Red Diamonds, one of Japan’s most decorated clubs, in the pan-Asian competition.
Tensions remain over Japan’s tough wartime occupation, including the Nanjing massacre in which 300,000 civilians and soldiers died, according to China. Some foreign academics estimate a significantly lower death toll.
Relations have plummeted anew and anti-Japan street protests have flared in China recently, over a disputed island chain claimed by both countries.
One Chinese report said Japan has asked China to guarantee the safety of the visiting team and its supporters in the eastern city.
Another said Chinese authorities have urged the Japanese fans only to use designated buses to travel to the stadium, and asked visiting Japanese media to stay at the team hotel.
Shops and food outlets are expected to be closed at the stadium for what is the first AFC Champions League game hosted by debutants Jiangsu, last year’s runners-up in China’s top division.
“We are going to keep calm against any problems which are expected to happen either inside or outside the stadium,” coach Makoto Teguramori said, according to Sendai’s Kahoku Shimpo newspaper, before the team flew out on Sunday.
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