Carlos Eduardo, Kodjo Laba and the UAE-based players to watch in 2020 Asian Champions League - in pictures

We look at the key men for the three UAE representatives as the West Asian group stage resumes

The West Asian group stages of the Asian Champions League resume on Monday, with all fixtures taking place in Doha. With four match days remaining, we look at the key men for the three UAE representatives, as each club look to turn around their respective campaigns.

Shabab Al Ahli Dubai

Carlos Eduardo – Good news for the Dubai side is their new signing, recruited last month on a free transfer from Al Hilal, appears to have recovered from injury just in time to debut. An attacking midfielder, Eduardo has real Champions League pedigree having last season helped Hilal end their 19-year for the title. Will most likely serve as his new side’s chief creator, but has an eye for goal too.

Ahmed Khalil. Reuters
Ahmed Khalil. Reuters

Ahmed Khalil – One of the club’s great success stories, the youth product-cum-Asian player of year is charged with spearheading the challenge to rebound from opening twin defeats in Group B. The UAE international has a questionable injury record, but seems fit and ready to fire. Knows the Champions League well: in 2015, Khalil was integral to the club’s march to the final, scoring important goals along the way.

Sharjah

Igor Coronado – The Brazilian midfielder is arguably the UAE top flight’s most talented player, and was the key component in Sharjah ending a 23-year wait for the domestic title two seasons ago. A vocal presence in the squad, Coronado has supreme dribbling skills, can play the killer pass, and is a goal threat from range and set-pieces. Intriguing to see if can recapture that form following last season’s serious injury.

Sharjah's Igor Coronado. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Sharjah's Igor Coronado. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Caio – It had been suggested that Coronado’s compatriot, on loan from Benfica, would leave the club this summer, and his availability only accentuates his current side’s attacking threat. The former Al Ain winger tasted Champions League heartache in 2016 when he finished runner-up with the Garden City side. Has pace, trickery and can chip in with goals, which Sharjah will need: at present, they’re bottom of Group C.

Al Ain

Kodjo Laba – Top scorer in last season’s curtailed Arabian Gulf League, the Togo striker chipped in with 19 goals in 18 matches – his debut campaign at the club. A more traditional front man, Laba is a prolific predator who provides Al Ain a real thrust in attack. Will need to hit the ground running, however: his side are bottom of Group D having suffered two defeats from two.

Kodjo Laba. Courtesy Arabian Gulf League
Kodjo Laba. Courtesy Arabian Gulf League

Bandar Al Ahbabi – For many the Arabian Gulf League’s standout player last season, the full-back has enjoyed fully his transition to winger. Al Ahbabi proved he has the tools to tee up teammates throughout the 2019/20 campaign, leading the division in assists with 12 in 17 matches. Al Ain will undeniably need his arrow-accurate delivery should they hold any genuine hope of turning around their Asian bid.

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The National's 2019/20 AGL Awards

Published: September 14, 2020 07:53 AM

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