Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Al Ahli are hoping for strong support in tonight?s game.
Al Ahli are hoping for strong support in tonight?s game.

Not enough fanfare for Al Ahli as they face Iranians

With the Al Ahli fans deserting their team, their AFC Champions League opponents, Mes Kerman, could expect to have the greater number of supporters at the Sheikh Rashid Stadium tonight.

DUBAI // With the Al Ahli fans deserting their team, their AFC Champions League opponents, Mes Kerman, could expect to have the greater number of supporters at the Sheikh Rashid Stadium tonight. Fans flocked to the stadium as Ahli won the Pro League title last season, but the stands have had a deserted look during this campaign with the team struggling to match their performances of old.

They are in eighth place in the domestic league and have one point from four group games in Asia. The last time they played a Champions League match at home, fans of Al Hilal, the Saudi Arabian side, outnumbered Ahli supporters and Abdulmajeed Hussein, the first-team director, fears similar scenes tonight with enthusiastic Iranians flocking to the stadium. "Mes Kerman could have more popular support," he said rue- fully. "We saw that in the last match, there were more Hilal supporters than Ahli fans.

"We understand that the results of our team have not been good this season, but I don't think poor results have anything to do with poor attendance. It is just a case of attitude. "Mes Kerman are battling to avoid relegation in the Iranian league, but their stadium was full during the previous game. We played there too and the stands were virtually full. "Still, I am hoping our fans will come out to support the team and help the players achieve a good result."

On the pitch, there is better news for Ahli. Bare, the striker, is back after a long lay-off and Faisal Khalil has been looking sharp after missing a large part of the season with injuries. Their return gives Hussein the confidence his team could still sneak into the second round. Ahli need to win this game and the next, at Al Sadd in Qatar, and hope Hilal win both their remaining matches as well.

Hilal are top of the group with 10 points while Sadd and Mes Kerman have six each. If Ahli win both their games and Hilal can do the same, the Dubai club will go through as the second team with seven points. "Our goal will be to get six points from the next two games," said Hussein. "That is our only chance. And then we can hope for some favours from Hilal." arizvi@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament was kicking off at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with plenty of excitement in store. Ravindranath K / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 kicks off in Abu Dhabi

The first match in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, was held at Zayed Cricket Stadium amid plenty of colour.

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike qualifies Al Jazira for last 16 of Asian Champions League

A dramatic late goal gave Al Jazira a 3-2 victory at Al Rayyan of Qatar in the Asian Champions League (ACL) on Wednesday night and it was just enough to push Walter Zenga’s side into the knockout stages.

 Zayed Cricket Stadium had not witnessed so electrcic an atmosphere before Wednesday evening. Pawan Singh / The National

Packed house gathers in Abu Dhabi for Indian Premier League opener

In less than half a day, Zayed Cricket Stadium witnessed the force that is Indian cricket, with the sound drowning out the controversies that have dogged the Twenty20 tournament, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks down after being defeated during the Copa del Rey Final between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 16, 2014 in Valencia, Spain. David Ramos/Getty Images

Plenty of life still in Barcelona, says Gerardo Martino

Barcelona coach maintained his side can still return to their former glories after they were beaten 2-1 by a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

 Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton, left, and Nico Rosberg at the official press conference following qualifying for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

F1: Toto Wolff says Mercedes have all the right ingredients in place

With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes have so far dominated the first three grands prix going into this weekend’s fourth round in China.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, left, reacts as Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini looks on during their English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on April 16, 2014. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. AFP PHOTO/Andrew YATES

Poyet says ‘I am sure that Luis Suarez is going to be happy’ after Sunderland draw at Manchester City

Sunderland’s survival chances remain slim because now they face Chelsea away at the weekend but manager Gus Poyet insists they are not trying to benefit Liverpool or his fellow Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National