AL AIN // Zlatko Dalic has asked Al Ain fans to fill the stadium on Tuesday night as their club attempt to fight back from a 3-0 first-leg deficit to the Saudi side Al Hilal in the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League.
“The players will need every bit of encouragement and support,” the Al Ain manager said yesterday. “Our fans have shown that before and I would like to see them behind the team when they need most.”
According to a club official, 90 per cent of the tickets at the 24,000-seat Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, the newest in the country, have been sold.
Al Ain will have to beat Hilal by the same margin just to take the game into extra time.
“It is a big challenge in front of us after the bad first result in Riyadh,” Dalic said. “Our obvious target is to win 3-0. It won’t be easy because Hilal are a big team and arrive with a big advantage.
“In the away game, we played well until the hour but were punished for a mistake in which we conceded three goals in nine minutes. Here we have to play 90 minutes for three goals. If they score one goal it will be over. Of course, we have to attack and also have to be cautious. It is like a mission impossible for us but in football everything is possible.”
Al Ain have since won two Arabian Gulf League games – 2-0 against Al Wasl, when they had to play with 10 men for more than 30 minutes, and 4-0 at Ajman.
“After the Hilal game I was a bit afraid for the team. But after those results the confidence is back and the atmosphere in the team is good,” Dalic said. “I will do my best to try and push my players. It is no easy job but I believe my team can do it. I will not give up.”
Laurentiu Reghecampf, the Hilal coach, wants his side to repeat the first-leg performance.
“I would like to see my team play in the same intensity and see them in final. If we score first then it is guaranteed that we will qualify,” said the Romanian, who took charge of Hilal in May.
“It will be hard for us to concede goals as we are well prepared. I’m sure we can score again.
“But having said that, Al Ain are a strong team and I am pretty sure the tie isn’t finished yet. We need to play very well to qualify, maybe even better than we did in our first game against them.”
AL HILAL COACH REGHECAMPF WORRIES ABOUT GYAN FACTOR FOR AL AIN
Asamoah Gyan could ruin Al Hilal’s hopes of making the Asian Champions League final, fears coach Laurentiu Reghecampf.
“Gyan is a special player, a very good striker, probably one of the best African players at this moment,” Romanian Reghecampf told Reuters via email. “Besides the fact he scores very easily he has a lot of experience and will be a real threat to us, but I trust my player’s ability to control him. Al Ain are a strong team and I am pretty sure the tie isn’t finished yet. We need to play very well to qualify, maybe even better than we did in our first game against them.”
Reghecampf, 39, joined Al Hilal in May, having coached Steau Bucharest to successive Romanian championships.
“Coming to Saudi Arabia is a step forward to me, because I chose to sign for the most important team in Asia,” Reghecampf said.
He will probably need to lead Al Hilal to a third Asian title to justify such a billing for the club.
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