Ahli keep AFC hopes alive

Al Ahli kept alive their slim hopes to advance to the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League following their 2-1 home victory over Iran’s Mes Kerman at Rashid Stadium.

By Hisham Al Gizouli

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Published: Wed 14 Apr 2010, 12:30 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:53 AM

Al Ahli led 1-0 at half time. UAE top scorer Faisal Khalil put the home team ahead at the half hour mark with a long range shot that hit Mes Kerman defender en route to the open net.

Mes Kerman Croatian coach Luca Bonacic made two substitution after the break. He sent in Milad Sheikhfakhruddini and Bigdeli to replace Seyfi Mostafa and Paulo Roberto respectively. At the hour mark, Luca made a third substitution by pulling out Salari Poor and substituted him with former Al Shaab striker Ali Samereh to underline his aggressive intentions.

The move of the Croatian man paid dividends and Rajabzadah levelled the score in the 75th minute.

Al Ahli’s Tunisian coach Noruddin Al Obaidi substituted Faisal Khalil with Salem Khamis and later sent on Bare to substitute Madanchi. Towards the 82nd minute, Syrian referee Mohsen Basma awarded Al Ahli a penalty kick and Ahmed Khalil made no mistake from the spot.

Al Ahli started with a slim hope to make it into the last eight of the competition. They need to beat Mes Kerman provided that Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia should beat both Qatar’s Al Sadd in Riyadh on Tuesday and Mes Kerman in the final round in Iran.

But, everything thereafter will also depend on the result of Al Ahli’s final clash against Al Sadd in Qatar in which a victory will see them through, other things being equal.

Mes Kerman have four points and will take on pace-setters Al Hilal in the final round at home. The Saudis are already through and looking forward to secure the first spot of the group to play at home in the knock out stage.

However, the UAE campaign in the AFC Champions League was far from being convincing. The other three representatives Al Wahda, Al Jazira and Al Ain didn’t have much luck both at home and away.

In Tashkent, Pakhtakor reversed their early 0-1 deficit against Al Ain to a narrow 3-2 home victory at Pakhtakor Stadium to close in on a place in the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League.

Al Ain took the lead soon after kick-off through Jorge Valdivia but two goals from Ahmedov put the Uzbeks ahead with less than 15 minutes on the clock.

An Ilhomjon Suyunov own goal brought Al Ain level but Ahmedov struck again shortly before the half-hour mark with what proved to be the winner.

Al Ain’s disappointment was complete when Brazil-born Qatar international forward Emerson was sent off just before the final whistle.

The victory means Pakhtakor have nine points while Al Ain remain rooted to the foot of Group C on four points.


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