Mahdi Ali says momentum with Shabab Al Ahli as they face Ahal in Asian Champions League

Al Jazira meet Air Force Club of Iraq in a must-win game in Group B

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Shabab Al Ahli manager Mahdi Ali has said he will not settle for anything but top spot in Asian Champions League Group C.

The Dubai club are on a roll after thrashing Al Gharafa of Qatar 8-2 as they go into their penultimate group phase match against Ahal of Turkmenistan at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah on Friday.

The win over Al Gharafa was their first victory after three draws and Mahdi Ali has urged his players to use the momentum to take them forward.

“Our focus is on being in first and not second position. To do that, we must win the final two matches,” the Emirati said.

“The last match gave us positivity and excitement but we need to stay focused and continue the momentum. It won’t be an easy game and we have to fight for the important three points.

“We did very well in the last match but if we don’t win tomorrow, then the result will be for nothing. The players know that and they are ready.”

Ahal goalkeeper Rasul Charyyev has been one of the standout performers for the debutants and he is determined to continue his consistent form against the fluid attacking of Shabab Al Ahli.

“There is no pressure because we prepared well before our arrival to Jeddah,” he said.

“Even while we are here, we have had good training sessions to prepare for the teams we are playing against. This is the first time we have played in the competition and we have been waiting for the moment to gain more experience.

“We have two more matches remaining and all of us are excited to play, to take it step by step and to give our best."

Ahal manager Rovshen Muhadov believes his side is ready to spring an upset.

“We want to get the points in the last two games,” he said. “We have done our analysis and we know where we can improve. The team is looking forward to the next match.”

Al Jazira, meanwhile, face Air Force Club of Iraq in Group B at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh on the same night.

Both sides are on four points with Jazira having the better goal difference, providing the perfect opportunity for either side to collect three points before they head into the final game.

The Jazira manager Marcel Keizer has called on his players to focus on finding the target after a scoreless draw against the Indian Super League champions Mumbai City FC.

Quote
We missed some big chances in the previous matches and we need to improve on that
Marcel Keizer - Al Jazira manager

“We will face Air Force Club for the second time and training has gone well after the goalless draw against Mumbai City,” the Dutchman said.

“We have a huge number of young players in our squad and we are preparing well and focused on facing the Iraqi side.

“Air Force Club are always playing the same strong five in defence and they are also good in counter-attacks. They have been performing well and I see them as a strong opponent and tomorrow’s game is going to be a challenge.

“We missed some big chances in the previous matches and we need to improve on that. We have a young squad and we have not been scoring of late. We have two goals from four games so I believe we have to convert our chances if we want a strong chance to qualify for the knockout stage.”

Updated: April 21, 2022, 5:40 PM
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