Al Ahli ready for Naft Tehran test

Al Ahli ready for Naft Tehran test
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Published September 16th, 2015 - 08:25 GMT via

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Al Ahli taking nothing for granted as Naft Tehran visit
Al Ahli taking nothing for granted as Naft Tehran visit

Al Ahli are taking nothing for granted as they line up against Naft Tehran in their home quarter-final of the AFC Champions League in Dubai on Wednesday.

Bidding to become the second UAE club to win the continental competition after Al Ain claimed the AFC Champions League in its inaugural year in 2003, Al Ahli have a slender advantage following their 1-0 away win in Tehran last month.

After that positive result, the Red Knights further strengthened their squad bringing in Senegal’s Mousa Sow from Turkish side Fenerbahce for a record reported fee of €17 million (Dh70.71 million). In addition, the Al Ahli line-up boasts the likes of Brazilians Everton Ribeiro and former Benfica star Rodrigo Lima, who scored the match-winner against Naft in the 62nd minute.

“We can’t afford to think about the result of the last game. This is a brand-new game and we need to start from 0-0. We saw in our first game that Naft is a strong team with experienced players and so we need to play for a win as 1-0 is a very difficult result,” Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu told media in Dubai on Tuesday.

“I hope we find the right motivation and determination while keeping our concentration intact throughout the 90 minutes. This factor will be most important. And I also hope to have some support from our fans as this won’t be an easy match. I actually expect this to be more difficult than the first game, and I hope we can come up with a big performance in the history of this club,” he added.

“It’s a tough game tomorrow and we have 90 minutes to create history of our own. The players have the responsibility to live up to the expectations of millions from the UAE and I am confident they will rise to the challenge.”

Naft coach Ali Reza Mansourian did not appear fazed by the task at hand despite going in with a one-goal deficit or the fact that Al Ahli have been on a winning run in their domestic matches.

“Of course, we are ready for tomorrow, both psychologically and mentally. We have exactly 50 per cent chances to qualify. We will have a surprise ready for Al Ahli as this is our last chance even though we are playing Al Ahli on their home ground,” Mansourian told media.

“But we know we are not alone here as we have our fans in the UAE who will come and back us in this task. One thing is for sure, whoever wins this match tomorrow can go on to be the champions,” the former Iranian playmaker added.

Mansourian predicted a bright future for Al Ahli. “First, there was Al Ain and now I can see Al Ahli joining them among the strong teams here. I am aware that Al Ahli is good and strong, but tomorrow is our final chance and we need to take it,” he said.

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