Al Ahli host Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande on Saturday in the first leg of the Asian Champions League final. Star striker Rodrigo Lima spoke to media ahead of the biggest match in the UAE club’s history.
Rewriting the record books
Ahli have never before progressed past the group stages in the competition, but they became only the second UAE club to make the final of Asian football’s elite club competition, after Al Ain in 2003 and 2005. Lima, signed this summer from Benfica, has been integral to their run, scoring in every match since joining. In all, the Brazilian has 14 goals in 12 matches for Ahli.
On his seamless transition
“First of all, my mentality, my way of working, always gives me confidence and has helped me to achieve this fast adaptation,” Lima said. “When you come from another country it’s difficult, but I give all the praise to the players and the coach, who helped me a lot. I’m very happy to live this moment in my career here in this country, and to have the opportunity to make history in the club.”
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On flying the flag
“We know we’re facing a very important game, not just for our club but the whole country. All the players are very motivated for this game and concentrated also. For us, it’s important to get a good result at home. We trust a lot in the coach, in the work we have been doing, so that’s why we have this confidence.”
On the sense of occasion
“I am confident we’re going to do our best to bring this trophy to Al Ahli and make history here. The moment now is to enjoy, to play this game because we know the historical aspect. This is a final and so the level of motivation is high and the small details will decide the outcome. My team are concentrated and we hope to have a good result.”
On Guangzhou’s Brazilians
“Everybody knows they are big players in Brazil, some are also in the national team and the role they have in Guangzhou is very important tactically. Maybe they are Guangzhou’s main players. But I also believe in our defence in how we’re going to face them, and we are studying them to try to neutralise their threat.”
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