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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 06/05/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Rst time two uae teams will clash in the history of afc elite al jazira goalkeeper ali khaseif during a training session. — supplied photothere was elation and also a sense of disappointment when al jazira and al ain made the cut from group a and group c. elation that two teams made it to the round of 16 but disappointment that only one of them will be left standing.al jazira welcome al ain to the mohammed bin zayed stadium in a lip-smacking last 16 clash of the afc champions league on tuesday night. the return leg will be played at the hazza bin zayed stadium on may 13 and only one of them can make it through to the quarterfinals.in a ideal world it would have been great to see both teams going through but it is not one after all. it is the first time in history that two uae teams will take on each other in the elite asian club competition. and whoever goes through it will be the first time since 2007 that the uae will have a team in the quarterfinals.al ain had won the inaugural edition in 2003 and were runners-up in 2005. al wahda had reached the semifinals in 2007. the only uae clubs to have got past the group stages of the competition were al jazira and bani yas in 2012 and al shabab who did it last year. but none of them had reached the round of 16. both al jazira and al ain powered through their respective groups with a game to spare. al jazira made the cut for the second time in three years after finishing second behind saudi arabia’s al shabab. they had previously made it to the round of 16 in 2011. al ain though qualified for the first time since 2006 after sealing the top spot in their group. this is al jazira’s sixth appearance in the asian competition while al ain are making their ninth appearance.al jazira coach walter zenga spoke about playing offensive football and that has shown. the spiders netted 12 goals in the group stage to emerge as the joint-second highest scoring team in the competition with saudi arabian clubs al hilal and al shabab. but they have also leaked 10 goals the second-highest total among the 16. al jazira have enough firepower in ali ahmed mabkhout felipe caicedo young and rising star ahmed rabia al ghilani and abdelaziz barrada but have been hit by injuries. they will be without midfielder abdulla mousa and defender juma abdulla.al jazira would be buoyed by the return of defender khalid sabeel who is back after serving a one-match ban for receiving two yellow cards during the group stage. “we have the same injuries from the last game the same squad and the same problems. it is still our problem and we are used to it now. but i think my team is ready.they have had a good season. it could have been great had we beaten al ahli in the final (arabian league cup). our target was to qualify for the afc champions league and reach a final. of course you need to put one point and say that this is going to be a perfect season” said zenga.meanwhile al ain have not won any of their previous seven away matches in the knockout stage drawing three games and losing four. while their away record in the competition is generally poor with only four wins in 28 matches on the road they did manage to end a run of 16 away matches in the group stage without a victory when they beat lekhwiya 5-0 in qatar last month.al ain are the highest scoring team in the competition with 14 goals while striker asamoah gyan is the tournament’s leading scorer with seven goals one ahead of al hilal’s nassir al shamrani.gyan along with omar abdulrahman yassine el ghanassy and ibrahim diaky can get through the tightest defences. but al ain will be sweating on the fitness of striker alex brosque. the australian is recovering from an ankle injury and is a doubtful starter. he may play a part during the game.“we have been playing without him (brosque) for some time now but we played well despite this absence. i will be keen on playing with fit players as we also have to take care of the second leg” said al ain coach zlatko dalic. their domestic tussles favour al jazira with the spiders beating al ain 2-1 last december and drawing 2-2 last week in the arabian gulf league. al jazira also beat al ain 3-1 in the arabian gulf cup. but it is a different competition and a different situation. this should be an interesting one.


Khaleej Times

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