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Short-handed Al Sadd bullish about chances against Al Hilal

Short-handed Al Sadd bullish about chances against Al Hilal

AFC/TNN
Riyadh
Buoyed by their 4-1 away win in the reverse fixture, complacency might be Al Hilal’s biggest obstacle as they host Al Sadd at the King Saud University Stadium in the second leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.
Three weeks earlier, Al Hilal had come from a goal down to record a famous 4-1 win in Doha.
Bafetimbi Gomis had converted into his own net 15 minutes in, but made amends in perfect style, bagging a brace, while Ali al Bulayhi and Mohammed al Shalhoub netted too to put the Saudi side in a comfortable position ahead of Tuesday’s return leg.
And if turning a three-goal home disadvantage was already a complicated task for Xavi’s Al Sadd, they will have to do so without their star striker Baghdad Bounedjah and 2018 AFC Player of the Year Abdelkarim Hassan. Both players are suspended for Tuesday’s match.
“The ball is still on the pitch. We will have chances and we will compete until the last breath. I know the result looks difficult to achieve, but we will do everything we can to achieve our goal especially since we are missing Hassan and Bounedjah. But we are one team and we will work as a group,” Xavi said on Monday.
“The team is ready to play, there is nothing impossible in football. We reached the semi-finals because of our performance so far and we will work to put on the best we have in tomorrow’s game.”
Remarkably, this is not the first time in the 2019 AFC Champions League that Al Hilal went into a home second leg having scored four past their opponents.
Al Sadd, meanwhile, have been in poor form in their recent travels to Saudi Arabia. Their most recent trip to the Kingdom saw them fall to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Al Nassr in the quarter-finals first leg. Prior to that, they had also lost to Al Ahli 2-0 in the group stage.
Xavi’s men have not featured in the QNB Stars League since October 5 when they were beaten by arch-rivals Al Rayyan 4-2 in the derby, a result that left them fifth in the table with 12 points from five matches. Though, they have two matches pending.
“Al Hilal is not the reason for the loss of Al Rayyan in the league, but we lost due to the mistakes we made,” Xavi said when asked about Al Sadd’s recent struggles. Everyone remembers only the result, but this is the case in football at all levels. We have to think about the future and not stop to develop and achieve the goals of the team.”
The reigning Qatari champions are staring at a second consecutive semi-final exit, having been eliminated at the same stage by Persepolis last year. They remain, however, the last West Asian side to lift the trophy back in 2011.

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