Al Ain’s Mohammed Fawzi eager for return to Asian Champions League

Al Jazira set for play-off clash with Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor while Al Wahda will face Qatar's Al Sadd or Al Riffa of Bahrain
The UAE's Mohammed Fawzi, right, tackles Oman's Fahad Al Jalabubi during the third-place match at the 22nd Gulf Cup of Nations at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on November 25, 2014. Fayez Nureldine / AFP
The UAE's Mohammed Fawzi, right, tackles Oman's Fahad Al Jalabubi during the third-place match at the 22nd Gulf Cup of Nations at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on November 25, 2014. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

Al Ain midfielder Mohammed Fawzi has targeted the knockout rounds of the Asian Champions League after the Garden City club were drawn in Group B with Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia, Uzbek league champions Pakhtakor and a play-off winner.

“No matter in which group we are, there is no easy passage in the continental championship,” the Emirati international said.

“Shabab and Pakhtakor have been playing at this level and they have the experience. We don’t know who will come through the qualifiers. But I must say we are second to none.

“Like every club in the Asian Champions League, we want to go out there and win. And if that is the objective, for sure, we must be prepared to play against any team and win.

“We did really well in our last campaign. We had one poor game and we were out of the competition. Hopefully, we can do better this time.”

Al Ain were the losing semi-finalists to Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia in the last edition, going out 4-2 on aggregate in September.

The UAE received two direct spots, for the league champions Al Ahli and President’s Cup winners Al Ain.

Al Wahda and Al Jazira, the second- and third-place teams in the league, must advance through the qualifying rounds.

They both received first-round byes, and Wahda will meet the winner of the February 17 qualifier between Qatar’s Al Sadd and Bahrain’s Al Riffa.

The winners of that match slots into Group C, which contains Hilal, Iran’s Foolad Khouzestan and Lokomotiv Tashkent of Uzbekistan.

Al Jazira meet Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan in a bid to make it into Group A, which is composed of Saudi champions Al Nassr, Lekhwiya of Qatar and Iranian club Persepolis.

The first group-stage matches are set for February 24 and 25.

Meanwhile, the defending champions Western Sydney Wanderers were drawn with 2013 winners Guangzhou Evergrande of China in Group H.

They will be joined by either 2007 champions Urawa Red Diamonds or Kashima Antlers, depending on who wins Japan’s Emperor’s Cup, and one of four teams who advance from the play-offs in the East.

apassela@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 12, 2014 04:00 AM

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