Al Rayyan are chasing their first win in Group D of the AFC Champions League when they host Al Hilal at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Monday. The Qatari team has drawn their last three group games and haven't won in five attempts against Hilal.
Al Rayyan coach Michael Laudrup, said he knows the Hilal team very well after both sides clashed six days ago in a game that ended in a 1-1 draw in Riyadh. He pointed out that their group"is very difficult with all the teams at the same level."
"Our players have a strong desire to provide the best, we faced the team, they played the final of the Asian Champions League last season, and our team showed that it is possible to overcome them," he said.
Laudrup noted that the team is playing to achieve victory over Al Hilal, expecting that the group will remain close in their results.
The Danish tactician revealed that the team maintains a balance between defence and attack, because of the strength of the team and its high potential. He said that in the event of victory for Al Rayyan, qualification will still not be settled and may stretch into the last two rounds of the group stages.
Apart from Esteghlal with five points, Rayyan and Al Ain are in second and third place respectively with three points apiece, while last year's runners-up Hilal stay in fourth with two points.
Despite the poor start, Al Hilal remain just three points off the top of the table and a win would move them two points above Al Rayyan and possibly into the top two qualification spots with two games remaining.
Goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi is available for Al Hilal after serving a one-match suspension, but striker Sebastian Soria misses out after picking up his second booking of the group stage during the match in Riyadh.
Captain Rodrigo Tabata says Rayyan's goal is to qualify for the knockout stage of the competition and that they are intent on overcoming the Saudi club.
Elsewhere, Al Duhail look the favourites to top Group B as they have an all-win record so far. They had beaten Uzbekistan's Lokomotiv 3-2 when they met last week and will be keen to extend their winning streak. Lokomotiv are third in the group, behind Iran's Zob Ahan. Lokomotiv will have the advantage of playing at home this time.
Al Duhail were crowned the QNB Stars League champions following their 5-0 victory over Al Kharaitiyat in Week 20 last Friday.
By Ikoli Victor
© Copyright Qatar Tribune. All Rights Reserved.