Football

Al Rayyan out to revive AFC Champions League hopes against Al Wahda

Al Rayyan of Qatar and UAE's Al Wahda FSCC will both be desperate for victory when the two sides meet on Matchday Four in Group E of the 2021 AFC Champions League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday.

Al Rayyan began their AFC Champions League campaign with a goalless draw against debutants FC Goa of India before going on to suffer defeats against Islamic Republic of Iran's Persepolis FC (3-1) and Al Wahda (3-2) to lie bottom of the group.

Monday's thrilling win over Al Rayyan reignited Al Wahda's hopes after Henk ten Cate's side opened their campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Persepolis and 0-0 draw with FC Goa to sit second in the standings.

Al Rayyan felt they deserved more in the matches against Persepolis and Al Wahda, having taken the lead in both ties only to end up losing.

Against Persepolis, Al Rayyan were leading 1-0 before conceding three goals in 15 minutes while Laurent Blanc's side surrendered a two-goal advantage at the tail end of the match against Al Wahda.

If they can plug the holes at the back, Blanc will feel that Al Rayyan can defeat Al Wahda for their first win of the campaign and reignite their hopes.

“I will not change my tactics against Al Wahda and we will play with the same philosophy as we did in our first match,” said Blanc.

“I think we deserved to win (against Al Wahda) on Tuesday. We were two goals up but we were beaten. We will prepare in the same way even though it’s a short recovery period for the players.

“My vision of football is to have control in the beginning and at the end of the game. At the moment we need a little bit of confidence and luck to win.”

Al Wahda went two matches without scoring but having found their shooting boots, ten Cate will be expecting his players to seal another three points against Al Rayyan.

The Al Wahda head coach's gamble to experiment with tactics in the second half against Al Rayyan paid dividends, with the Dutchman's decision to field several young players paying off handsomely.

“We won our last game because it had to do with the determination and mentality of the players,” said ten Cate. “It is always something that I want to see in my players and the match isn’t over till it’s over.

“The one who scores the most wins the game. We had a one goal at first and I saw the energy level in the players began to drop.

“The tank was running on empty, I saw us getting tired but we got our second wind in the last 20 minutes with our counter-attack. They ( Al Rayyan) have a must win situation, where we can be happy with a draw. The pressure is on them.”

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