Asian Champions League: Al Ain v El Jaish key match-ups for first-leg semi-final

John McAuley looks at the key match-ups ahead of Al Ain’s Asian Champions League first-leg, semi-final match against Qatari side El Jaish at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.
Omar Abdulrahman is a key player for Al Ain. Satish Kumar / The National
Omar Abdulrahman is a key player for Al Ain. Satish Kumar / The National

John McAuley looks at the key match-ups ahead of Al Ain’s Asian Champions League first-leg, semi-final match against Qatari side El Jaish at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.

Ismail Ahmed v Romarinho

Given the value of an away goal, the Al Ain defence will need to be fully focused throughout to keep El Jaish at bay. With lead striker Abderrazak Hamdallah out injured, much of the visitors’ attacking thrust falls on Brazil forward Romarinho. Centre-backs Ahmed and Mohanad Salem must stay focused, with the more experienced Ahmed taking the lead.

Caio v Yousef Muftah

A summer signing from Japan, Caio has settled quickly at Al Ain. The Brazilian winger is slowly growing in influence, scoring the decisive goal in the last round to seal the club a semi-final spot. Pacey and with the skills to match, he represents one of Al Ain’s main threats. El Jaish right-back Muftah should be in for a busy night.

Omar Abdulrahman v Mohammed Mothnani

Al Ain’s prize asset has been in typically sparkling form already this season. Abdulrahman will captain the side, with the playmaker looking to lead by example and control the tempo of the match. Mothnani’s role is therefore crucial: the industrious Tunisian midfielder needs to shackle Abdulrahman if El Jaish are to get anything from the game.

Head-to-head meetings

Al Ain 1-2 El Jaish (February 24, 2016)

The UAE champions were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal, when they spurned several opportunities to eventually be outdone by slack defending at the other end. Romarinho and Hamdallah gave El Jaish a 2-0 first-half lead, then Douglas missed a penalty and scored another. A shock defeat for the hosts.

El Jaish 2-1 Al Ain (March 2, 2016)

After dominating the first half, Al Ain fell behind to a Hamdallah goal shortly after the break, before Yasir Isa doubled the hosts’ lead 11 minutes from time. Saeed Al Kathiri pulled one back for Al Ain seven minutes later, but the UAE side could not find the equaliser. Their campaign had begun with successive defeats.

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Published: September 26, 2016 04:00 AM

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