Al Ain ready for group stage after securing Asian Champions League spot with play-off win over Malkiya



Al Ain progressed to the group stage of the Asian Champions League (ACL) on Tuesday night, thanks to second-half goals from Marcus Berg and Caio, as the Arabian Gulf League side beat Malkiya of Bahrain 2-0 at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

Berg ended what was turning out to be a long wait for the home fans when, on 53 minutes, he scored Al Ain's first goal off a low cross from Egyptian midfielder Hussein El Shahat. Caio added the second goal eight minutes later when he headed in a Bandar Al Ahbabi cross.

Al Ain manager Zoran Mamic was predictably relieved after the match.

“The game against Malkiya was tough. It took our players a while to score, but once they did, we had control of the game,” Mamic said. “We are glad we qualified for the group stage of this competition.

"We have played at this level in the past and looking forward for another campaign at this level. The first two games [in the group stage] that starts in two weeks will be very crucial for us.”

Indeed, Al Ain join a tough Group D with their first game against Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia on February 13 at Prince Faisal bin Fahad Stadium in Riyadh. They then face Qatar’s Al Rayyan a week later. The other team in the group are Esteghlal of Iran.

The UAE will be represented by three other teams in the competition: Al Jazira in Group A, Al Wahda in Group B and Al Wasl in Group C.

That Mamic's side could actually play on Tuesday night was down to the fact a certain football club in Dubai could not.

Al Ain had finished fourth in the Arabian Gulf League last season, and they only made the Champions League play-off round because of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai's failure to obtain the Asian Football Confederation licence. Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, a club formed last summer, did not have the three-year requirement necessary to qualify for the ACL.

So naturally, Mamic was thrilled about this twist of fate.

______________

Read more

Watch: Al Ain prepare for their Asian Champions League play-off with Malkiya

UAE teams to play games in Qatar and host Qatari sides in Champions League

AFC leaves door open to neutral venues being used in the Champions League

______________

“At the beginning, the ACL wasn’t in our agenda," the Croat said. "So this was an opportunity to play in the continental championship. Now that we progressed to the group stage, we want to make it count."

The manager conceded his team now had the more difficult task of challenging for two titles, rather than one, before adding "we’ll take that as a positive".

“To play in the continental championship is the objective of every club and we’ll take it from here. It’s another great opportunity for us to play in the continental championship."

Malkiya manager Ahmed Al Dakheel, meanwhile, looked on the brighter side after their defeat.

Al Dakheel said it was a new experience for his side playing in the continental championship after they won their first domestic trophy last season.

“We knew we were up against a side that won this title once and were twice runner up,” he said. “I think we still played well and we created a few chances. We couldn’t score which is another matter. But for sure, it was a learning curve for us and we’ll take this experience forward.”

Al Ain had the best chance of breaking the deadlock in the first half. El Shahat rolled the ball towards an empty net but Soriola Gege, Malkiya’s Nigerian centre-back, came in a flash to clear it from the goal-line with a minute left for half time.

Malkiya had their chances, too. Isa Al Bari’s header off a long ball from Sayed Issa bounced in front of the goalmouth but was cleared by Al Ain keeper Khalid Eisa on 20 minutes.

Al Ain captain Omar Abdulrahman sent one wide of the far post from inside the area at the other end four minutes later.

The visitors came close again and this time Eisa did well to push out a chipped effort from close range by Sayed Hashim, and Al Ain’s Brazilian forward Caio’s effort from inside the box was smothered by Issa.

SPEC SHEET: APPLE M3 MACBOOK AIR (13")

Processor: Apple M3, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, 2560 x 1664, 224ppi, 500 nits, True Tone, wide colour

Memory: 8/16/24GB

Storage: 256/512GB / 1/2TB

I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

Essentials
The flights: You can fly from the UAE to Iceland with one stop in Europe with a variety of airlines. Return flights with Emirates from Dubai to Stockholm, then Icelandair to Reykjavik, cost from Dh4,153 return. The whole trip takes 11 hours. British Airways flies from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Reykjavik, via London, with return flights taking 12 hours and costing from Dh2,490 return, including taxes. 
The activities: A half-day Silfra snorkelling trip costs 14,990 Icelandic kronur (Dh544) with Dive.is. Inside the Volcano also takes half a day and costs 42,000 kronur (Dh1,524). The Jokulsarlon small-boat cruise lasts about an hour and costs 9,800 kronur (Dh356). Into the Glacier costs 19,500 kronur (Dh708). It lasts three to four hours.
The tours: It’s often better to book a tailor-made trip through a specialist operator. UK-based Discover the World offers seven nights, self-driving, across the island from £892 (Dh4,505) per person. This includes three nights’ accommodation at Hotel Husafell near Into the Glacier, two nights at Hotel Ranga and two nights at the Icelandair Hotel Klaustur. It includes car rental, plus an iPad with itinerary and tourist information pre-loaded onto it, while activities can be booked as optional extras. More information inspiredbyiceland.com

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

How to volunteer

The UAE volunteers campaign can be reached at www.volunteers.ae , or by calling 800-VOLAE (80086523), or emailing info@volunteers.ae.

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 582bhp

Torque: 730Nm

Price: Dh649,000

On sale: now 

Your Guide to the Home
  • Level 1 has a valet service if you choose not to park in the basement level. This level houses all the kitchenware, including covetable brand French Bull, along with a wide array of outdoor furnishings, lamps and lighting solutions, textiles like curtains, towels, cushions and bedding, and plenty of other home accessories.
  • Level 2 features curated inspiration zones and solutions for bedrooms, living rooms and dining spaces. This is also where you’d go to customise your sofas and beds, and pick and choose from more than a dozen mattress options.
  • Level 3 features The Home’s “man cave” set-up and a display of industrial and rustic furnishings. This level also has a mother’s room, a play area for children with staff to watch over the kids, furniture for nurseries and children’s rooms, and the store’s design studio.
     
2020 Oscars winners: in numbers
  • Parasite – 4
  • 1917– 3
  • Ford v Ferrari – 2
  • Joker – 2
  • Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood – 2
  • American Factory – 1
  • Bombshell – 1
  • Hair Love – 1
  • Jojo Rabbit – 1
  • Judy – 1
  • Little Women – 1
  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl) – 1
  • Marriage Story – 1
  • Rocketman – 1
  • The Neighbors' Window – 1
  • Toy Story 4 – 1

Latest
Most Read
Top Videos