AL AIN // Asamoah Gyan, the Al Ain striker, is urging caution ahead of next week's Asian Champions League quarter-final second leg against Al Ittihad, despite the Garden City club enjoying a two-goal aggregate lead.
The 2003 champions travel to Saudi Arabia buoyed by Tuesday’s 2-0 triumph at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, secured by second-half strikes from Ismail Ahmed and Gyan.
Such an advantage places Al Ain in a strong position to advance to the semi-finals for the first time in nine years, although Gyan has warned his teammates the tie is far from finished.
“It was an important win,” he said. “We wanted to win convincingly to make sure we secure our Champions League dream. So 2-0 at home is quite good, but we need to stay focused and make sure we do well in the second match.
“It’s a very big game for us. We know it’s all ahead of us and we have to keep calm, because it’s not done yet. We must stay focused and do the right thing.”
Al Ain’s chances on Tuesday should be enhanced by the match being played behind closed doors, after a sanction placed on Ittihad by the Asian Football Confederation. It dates from May and the crowd trouble at the Saudi side’s last-16 encounter with compatriots Al Shabab. Ittihad have appealed the decision.
“It’s a big plus for us,” Gyan said. “They’re playing at home, without fans and we’ve certainly got an advantage there. What matters, though, is we’ve won 2-0 and we’re going there to make sure we qualify. Whatever the result may be, we have to qualify for the next stage. That’s our goal.”
Gyan’s first-leg goal took his tally this year for the tournament to 11, stretching his lead at the top of the scorers’ chart. The Ghanaian received a superb assist from Omar Abdulrahman, a partnership that continues to flourish.
“We understand each other very well,” Gyan said. “Every time he gets the ball I know what he’s trying to do, I’m always ready – it’s not the first time.
“The communication between us is really, really good and what matters is to finish well. When you’re a striker and you get a lot of quality passes like that and you don’t finish, then the work goes unrewarded. So I’ve got to just do my job.
“Personally I’m happy to score. I’m continuing to do it and that’s a good thing for a striker. The team have helped me so much; I have to thank the players and everybody for their support. I had a great World Cup and I’m still scoring, so it’s a good thing for me.”
Gyan also praised the impact of new signings Miroslav Stoch and Lee Myung-joo, who debuted against Ittihad and who each provided telling contributions in midfield.
“They are new in the team and we need to support them,” Gyan said. “It’s very difficult to adapt to a new league, they’re coming from different places so we just have to give them time.
“But the players are supporting them, which is the most important thing. They are not 100 per cent, but they’re getting better.”
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