Familiar foes now await Al Jazira in Asian Champions League

Al Jazira will meet Arabian Gulf League rivals Al Ain in the last 16 of the Asian Champions League after finishing runners-up to Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia in Group A, reports Amith Passela.

Al Jazira’s Felipe Caicedo, centre, gets past Al Shabab goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais but is unable to find the net on Wednesday night in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
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Al Jazira 1 Al Shabab (KSA) 2

Al Jazira Ibrahim 59'

Al Shabab Al Ruwaili 35', 89'

Man of the match Abdulmajeed Al Ruwaili (Al Shabab)

ABU DHABI // Al Jazira will meet Arabian Gulf League rivals Al Ain in the last 16 of the Asian Champions League after finishing runners-up to Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia in Group A.

Abdulmajeed Al Ruwaili scored either side of half time for the visitors while Ahmed Al Ghilani scored Jazira’s goal in a 2-1 defeat at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Wednesday night.

Jazira paid the price for profligacy. They wasted too many chances and paid the price when Al Ruwaili fired in the winner a minute from time to take his team’s tally to 15 points and top of Group C. Shabab will next face fellow Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad in a two-legged last-16 clash.

“We missed an unbelievable number of scoring chances in the first 30 minutes, and some of them from one-on-one situations,” said Walter Zenga, the Jazira coach.

“When you continue to miss them the pressure mounts and the confidence goes low. That was what happened tonight. The team worked hard and created a lot of chances, but at the end, we couldn’t score.”

Jazira meet Al Ain in the first leg at home on May 6 with the return leg at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium a week later.

“I would have preferred to play another club from another country in an international competition,” said Zenga.

“But that didn’t happen. So we meet Al Ain and one team will have to head to the exit. I wish it will be Al Ain and not us.”

The visitors took the lead as Abdulmajeed Sulayhim slipped a pass to Al Ruwaili, whose shot deflected off Shin Hyung-min and wrong-footed goalkeeper Ali Kasheif off guard.

Jazira had a golden chance to go into the break but Al Ghilani’s close-range shot crashed against the bar and Salim Ali’s rebound was scrambled clear by a defender from the crowded goalmouth.

However, Al Ghilani did pull Jazira level on 58 minutes with a scorching 40-yard piledriver. His busy night’s work was cut short though as the teenage forward was forced to leave the pitch on 67 minutes after suffering cramps.

Zenga was not impressed.

“He is only 19 but had to leave the field because of cramps. I can’t understand why these youngsters cannot look after themselves on their physical conditions,” said the Italian.

Al Ruwaili’s second goal was a simple tap in to an empty net after Kasheif’s diving block on a shot from Ahmed Ateef fell kindly into the Shabab midfielder’s path.

“We are happy with the result against Jazira, particularly when we have an important domestic cup semi-final [second leg of the King’s Cup against Al Ittifaq] coming up this week,” Shabab coach Ammar Souayah said.

Forlan goal lifts Cerezo Osaka into knockout stage

Uruguay striker Diego Forlan struck a precious winner to take his new club Cerezo Osaka into the Asian Champions League last 16 at the expense of China’s Shandong Luneng on Wednesday night.

Forlan grabbed the decisive goal in Group E shortly after half time as Cerezo won their final group game 2-1. Brazilian forward Vagner Love had put Shandong ahead from the penalty spot in the first half.

In the group’s other game, leaders Pohang Steelers of Korea drew 0-0 with Thailand’s Buriram United.


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