Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr face UAE Pro League’s Al Ain FC on Matchday Six of Group D in the 2020 AFC Champions League today, with the former having already qualified for the Round of 16 while their opponents have been eliminated.
Al Nassr had cruised through the group stage, beating Sepahan FC twice and drawing against Al Sadd SC twice, while their previous match against Al Ain on Matchday Two was decided by goals from Mukhtar Ali and current top scorer Abderazzaq Hamdallah.
A win for coach Rui Vitoria’s men would secure the top spot, but a draw could also be enough for Al Nassr to snatch the top spot, provided Al Sadd fail to defeat Sepahan in the other Group D fixture today.
“This is a new match, and our aim as always is to win. Al Ain are a good team and they have a good manager even though they missed their shot at qualifying to the next round,” said Vitoria.
“The format of this tournament is something new. I like it because it allows us to work closely with the players all the time. We are ready to keep playing like this, but at the same time what makes it difficult is the short period between matches.
“Whoever reaches the final will have achieved some sort of a miracle, because they will have done something incredible under difficult circumstances.
“We go into every match wanting to win, regardless of the opposition. We want to win tomorrow to secure first place in the group. Our goal previously was to qualify from the group, and we took it step-by-step but now we want to win this game because this team’s mentality is a winning one.”
On the contrary, the 2020 AFC Champions League has been a disappointing campaign for the competition’s inaugural winners Al Ain, who remain without a win in the AFC Champions League since their 4-1 win over Qatar’s Al Rayyan in April 2018, a run that stretches 13 games across three editions.
“This is our final match here. We will fight to get the points just like we promised our fans. We will be facing the best team in the group, and they are the group leaders,” said Portuguese coach Pedro Emanuel.
“At this level of competition between big teams who have good players, the little details will make all the difference. We have prepared well for the matches, and we have played each game with the aim of getting all the points to get back on track.
“We suffered due to lack of competitive matches for six months, this had a huge effect on us but participating in this competition had lots of benefits for us going forward.”
With the group’s two tickets to the Round-of-16 going to Al Nassr and Al Sadd, the two sides will have an eye on Group C fixtures taking place today to find out their next opponents, with all of Al Duhail, Sharjah, Persepolis and Al Taawoun still in with a chance of qualifying.
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