By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Duhail will look to post a perfect six wins from six when they round
off their 2018 AFC Champions League Group B campaign at home to UAE’s Al
Wahda at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium today.
Ismail Mohamed struck the only goal of the game as the Qatari side registered five wins in a row following a 1-0 victory over Zobahan last week and they will progress to the last 16 as one of the form teams on the continent.
Al Wahda’s 4-1 home defeat to Lokomotiv in early April confirmed their elimination after going into the penultimate game with a realistic chance of progressing to the next round.
The group winners have won an incredible 13 games in a row since early February and go into the game having not played for over a week, while Al Wahda defeated Al Jazira 3-0 in the UAE President’s Cup on Wednesday.
Luiz Junior is suspended for Al Duhail after picking up his second booking of the group stage last time out, while the trio of Balazs Dzsudzsak, Salem Sultan and Mohamed Abdulbasit return from one-game bans for the visitors.
Meanwhile, Duhail coach Djamel Belmadi indicated yesterday that he will give young players a chance against Al Wahda. The Algerian wanted his team to have a clear record before they go into the knockout stages. “Today’s match is an opportunity for a number of young players. We have number of young players on the bench, because the club’s policy is based on the young players who are future of the club and country,” Belmadi said.
Duhail will miss the services of Tunisian attacking midfielder Youssef Msakny, who is likely out of action for six months with a cruciate ligament injury he sustained during their QNB Stars League match against Al Sailiya. Belmadi conceded he will miss Msakny, but the Duhail coach said it was not the first time his team will miss a key player. “We’re going into today’s game in order to play at the best possible level and to achieve a positive result. Both Msakni and Youssef El-Arabi are important for us, but we also have Nam Tae-Hee, Karim Boudiaf and other players. The team must work as a group and not depend on a particular player,” he said.
“We also missed many players due to international commitments during the season, but we still won many matches in the league. So the focus should not be on individuals but to work collectively as a team,” he added.
Al Gharafa to play for pride
Meanwhile, the bottom two sides in Group A of the 2018 AFC Champions League will close their continental campaigns today as Tractorsazi Trabriz host Al Gharafa at Yadegar-e Emam Stadium in Tabriz, Iran.
Al Gharafa’s 3-2 home defeat to Al Jazira two weeks ago ended the Qatari side’s hopes of progressing to the knockout rounds because of an inferior head-to-head record against the Emirati team.
Al Gharafa will be without Assim Madibo after his red card against Al Jazira as the sides aim to end the competition on a high having won just one game between them.
Tractorsazi have endured a miserable campaign and have yet to pick up a win, with a 2-0 reversal against Al Ahli on Matchday Five finally confirming their elimination.
The hosts’ form domestically has been equally disappointing as Friday’s loss to Sepidrood Rasht was their 10th game without a win, while Al Gharafa’s last game was a 3-0 win over Qatar SC.
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