Doha: Al Sadd will be keen to take all three points when they host Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in the first leg of the last-16 knock-out match on Monday.
Ahli were unbeaten as they emerged as Group A winners, but Sadd would be optimistic about their chances as Jesualdo Ferreira’s men also have been in fine form this season even though they do not have much to show about it.
Sadd finished second behind Persepolis after losing to the Iranians in their last group game and if given a chance the Saudi Arabian side would have avoided taking on Xavi Hernandez and Co this early in the tournament.
Al Sadd the Asian winners in 1988 and 2011, are keen to prove their mettle and this is a golden chance. However, they will be without the injured duo of Ali Asad and Jugurtha Hamroun, and will definitely miss defender Pedro Miguel who is suspended for the match.
“We are delighted to be at this stage of the competition. Al Ahli is on a similar level to Al Sadd and that is why this match is going to be a strong one. We will seek to win at home to increase our chances of qualifying for the next round,” said Sadd coach Ferreira.
“It’s one of the most important games of the season for us. We hope to score and not concede before we play the return leg in Saudi next week,” the Portuguese added.
Ferreira was not concerned over the absence of Pedro, Asad and Hamroun. “I do not think it will affect us a lot. We have a huge squad and there are players to fill in for the injured.”
Qatar’s other representative, Al Duhail will take on UAE’s Al Ain away at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
Duhail who have been in impressive form throughout the season will look to continue their fine form.
They remained unbeaten in the league and defeated arch-rivals Sadd to win the Qatar Cup as well.
Coach Djamel Belmadi and top-scorer Youssef El Arabi have said winning the AFC Champions League is their main aim this season.