Cosmin confident of winning AFC opener

Al Ahli’s Romanian coach Cosmin Olariuo looked confident that they have every chance to make a winning start on Wednesday.

By Hisham Al Gizouli - Chief Reporter

Published: Thu 26 Feb 2015, 1:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:45 PM

Dubai — Al Ahli are embarking on the power of their die-hard supporters to propel the team to victory when the Red Knights entertain Saudi giants Al Ahli in the opener of the 2015 AFC Champions League group stage at Rashid Stadium here on Wednesday. The match is set to kickoff at 8.25pm.

Al Ahli FC coach Cosmin Olaroiu instructs his players during the Arabian Gulf League football match against Al Wasl FC at Al Rashid stadium in Dubai on Friday. — KT file 

“I would be very pleased to see our faithful fans packing the venue to cheer the players at this early stage of our continental campaign,” said Abdulla bin Saeed Al Nabooda, Chairman of the club.

“Admission is free for the club’s supporters in the public stand,” it was confirmed by the club’s management on Tuesday. “Admission for 10 percent of the seats which are reserved for the Saudi fans in the grandstand will be equally free as gesture of respect for the brotherly ties which link Saudi Arabia to the UAE and the friendly relationships between the two leading clubs,” a statement by the club’s management confirmed. “But, only holders of invitation will have access to the VIP stand,” the statement warned.

Al Ahli’s Romanian coach Cosmin Olariuo looked confident that they have every chance to make a winning start on Wednesday.

“I’m not biased about the chances of my team to return to the winners’ enclosure to have a strong start to the competition to keep our chances alive in advancing to the knockout stage,” he told newsmen at the clubhouse on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be a very tough confrontation against a team which play total football in great harmony and have just won the Crown Prince Cup at home after blinding the football powerhouse Al Hilal, but it’s our turn to delight our fans as well,” he said. “I’m looking forward to see a strong reaction from my boys. The last workout was very promising and the players are in their best form. They are going to do it,” he said.

“Last season we held Al Hilal and we have too much respect Al Ahli. Most of the players have been with me in Australia during the recent AFC Asian Cup competition. I expect our strikers to break the jinx and score more goals this time out. We need a touch of luck. We will keep focus and the Saudi opponents are Real Madrid,” he said.

Saudi coach Christian Gross admitted that both teams know each other and they have nothing to hide. “Cosmin knows the Saudi football and he has been working with most of the players during his assignment with the national team. We have a clear plan and a new team. We came to win the full points, but I will be happy should we manage to split points since we are playing away from our headquarters,” he said.

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