Football

AFC Champions League 2021: Al Duhail Aim for Top Position Ahead of Esteghlal Clash

Al Duhail SC aim for the top Group C of the 2021 AFC Champions League when they play Esteghlal FC at the King Abdullah Sports City on Wednesday.

A five-point lead after three matches would mean a hefty advantage in the race for the solitary automatic slot to the Round of 16 and the Islamic Republic of Iran club will fancy their chances after having defeated Iraq's Al Shorta (3-0) and Al Ahli Saudi FC (5-2).

Al Duhail, meanwhile, will have to beat Esteghlal after the Qatar side conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to Al Ahli Saudi FC on Matchday Two, having beaten Al Shorta 2-0 in their opener.

Esteghlal will head into the tie oozing confidence after scoring a group stage-high of eight goals in their opening two matches.

What makes their start even more impressive is that the goals have flowed from different sources for Farhad Majidi's side with Mohammad Naderi, Farshid Esmaeili, Cheick Diabat and Mehdi Ghaedi each having scored two.

"We expect a difficult match tomorrow because Al Duhail are an excellent side and they have good organisation on the pitch. We have seen their matches in the competition and they have had good performances," said Esteghlal assistant coach Faraz Kamalvand.

"The winners tomorrow will have a chance to advance to the next stage. We will give our best in order to win our third consecutive match and strengthen our position in the group.

"We have good players and four of them scored two goals each. This tactical variation helps us to take use of all our capabilities in order to score goals."

Al Duhail, on the other hand, were guilty of not putting away their chances against Al Ahli Saudi FC on Matchday Two, with the Saudi Arabia club salvaging a 1-1 draw in added time.

The Qatar side had 29 total shots, eight of which were on target against Al Ahli Saudi and head coach Sabri Lamouchi did not hide his disappointment after the match.

However, Al Duhail's fate is still very much in their own hands and a win over Esteghlal will mean top spot in the group at the halfway stage and Lamouchi will expect his players to deliver.

"The match is important for the two teams and I believe that the competition has become exciting because there are strong opponents and all the matches are important," said Lamouchi.

"We will be playing against the group leaders and we know that we have a difficult task. I watched the match between Esteghlal against Al Ahli while their previous match against Al Shorta is not a reference because Al Shorta played with 10 men for 80 minutes."

"They have good scoring form as they scored eight goals in two matches and their best scorer is their left-back. We created a lot of chances in our last match and we should have scored more goals.

"Tomorrow's match will be interesting and we will be playing two consecutive games against the same side. We have great challenges and hopefully we can overcome all the obstacles."

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