AFC Champions League: Al-Nasr and Al-Ain are looking forward to taking the first steps in the semi-finals… tomorrow

Al-Nasr Saudi Arabia is looking forward to achieving a positive result when it visits Al-Ain of the Emirates tomorrow, Monday, at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League football competition, while Al-Hilal Saudi Arabia will meet its compatriot Al-Ittihad again the day after tomorrow, Tuesday, but this time in a confrontation on the continental level. Specifically, the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League. South Korea’s Jeonbuk Motors will also meet on Tuesday with its compatriot Ulsan Hyundai, with the first leg of the quarter-finals concluding on Wednesday with China’s Shandong Taishan meeting with Japan’s Yokohama Marinos.

In the first match, Al-Nasr and Al-Ain renewed the competition after they met in the group stage of the 2020 edition, and exchanged wins, as Al-Nasr won the first leg at its rival’s stadium, 2-1, and Al-Emirati responded by winning the second leg, 1-0.

The two teams performed well in the current edition, as Al Ain achieved six victories in the group stage and one eighth in the final against a loss and a draw, and aspires to continue its strong performances despite the difficulty of the task against the star-studded Al Nassr, which in turn achieved six victories and two draws.

Al Ain’s preparations did not go perfectly after its top scorer in the current edition of the continental competition with six goals, Togolese Laba Kodjou, was injured against Baniyas in the local league, before international goalkeeper Khaled Issa joined him against Hatta in the last stage.

In the absence of Kodjo, Al Ain’s hopes will rest on Moroccan international Sofiane Rahimi, who scored five goals in the competition, and Argentine Matias Palacios, after Argentine coach Hernan Crespo rested them against Hatta in preparation for the Asian match.

The fever of Ronaldo and the international stars of Al-Nasr swept the city of Al-Ain early, and hundreds gathered to buy tickets for the match in front of the club store in Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium as soon as they were released, before Al-Ain announced the sale of tickets via an electronic platform in order to preserve the safety of fans.

Al Ain’s defenders will have a difficult task to stop the danger of the Portuguese duo, Cristiano Ronaldo (5 goals), and the Brazilian Anderson Talisca, who tops the scorers’ rankings with 8 goals, equally with his compatriot, Crisan Barcelos, the Shandong Taishan player.

But the Paraguayan Alejandro Romero “Kaku”, Al Ain’s playmaker, who previously played for Al-Taawoun, confirmed that “Al-Nasr is not just Ronaldo, it is a team that has a group of good players, who have great quality in all positions, and we must focus on our team and hope that the final result will be… “Our interest.”

In the same round of the tournament, the next day – that is, Tuesday – attention will turn to the Kingdom Arena again in Riyadh, where it will host the exciting El Clásico between Al Hilal and Al Ittihad, four days after their confrontation in the local league, which the home team decided in its favor 3-1.

Al-Hilal hopes to renew its victory over its rival to continue its journey in the competition in which it holds the record for the number of titles (4 times, most recently in 2021), while Al-Ittihad, the champion twice in 2004 and 2005, will try to restore its reputation and go a long way towards the round of four.

But the task of the men of Argentine coach Marcelo Gallardo will not be easy in front of the men of Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, who have achieved victory in the last 25 matches in various competitions and have not tasted the taste of loss so far this season, and are looking forward to achieving a victory that they can secure in the second leg.

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