Al Wahda back in the Asian Champions League after 3-0 win over Jordan’s Al Wehdat

A full-strength Al Wahda, brandishing their new white kits, had too much firepower for Jordanian side Al Wehdat as they secured their place in the group stages of this year’s Asian Champions League with a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Sebastian Tagliabue, centre, was on target twice for Al Wahda against Al Wehdat. Pawan Singh / The National
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ABU DHABI // A full-strength Al Wahda, brandishing their new white kits, had too much firepower for Jordanian side Al Wehdat as they secured their place in the group stages of this year’s Asian Champions League with a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Ahmed Rashid opened the scoring inside the opening minute for the UAE club and the prolific Argentine Sebastian Tagliabue – back in the team after serving a domestic suspension – struck either side of the half time for a 3-0 victory in front of 10,061 fans at Al Nahyan Stadium.

Wahda’s play-off victory means they take their place in Group D with the Qatar champions Al Rayyan, Saudi Arabian powerhouse Al Hilal and Persepolis of Iran.

The Wahda manager Javier Aguirre said playing in the continent’s premier competition would do wonders for his squad.

“On the game tonight, there was not much difference between the two teams. We did well to win and return to the champions league,” Aguirre said. “Like all teams, when you first start to compete in any tournament, our intention is to win it. So, we’ll see how it pans out for us. We still have a lot of time to think about competing in the ACL.

“But for sure, playing in the ACL will provide our young players an excellent opportunity to play at the continental level and gain experience. We are in a tough group but for the moment we’ll have to switch back to the domestic competitions.”

Wahda were strengthened by the return of influential Chilean midfielder Jorge Valdivia from a lengthy knee injury alongside Tagliabue and Hungarian winger Balazs Dzudzsak.

Wahda could not have wished for a better start on the night, opening the scoring after only 45 seconds when Rashid pounced after the Wehdat goalkeeper Amer Shafi could only parry a Rim Chang-woo effort.

Tagliabue doubled the lead when he headed home Valdivia’s flick back across the goalmouth on 24 minutes and the Argentine striker sealed the victory with a stunning strike from outside the box with nine minutes left.

Adnan Hamad, Wehdat’s Iraqi manager, said Wahda’s early goal made all the difference.

“We know Wahda is a strong team but had they not scored in the first minute the game would have been a lot different,” he said. “We too had the opportunity to level the score and a few more chances as the game progressed, but that didn’t happen.

“I think we didn’t lack any quality at this level and had more than 4,000 fans in attendance, and as such we would like to have a permanent spot in the ACL.”

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