x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Ahli still looking for first win in Asian Champions League

Ahli, top of the Arabian Gulf League, have yet to triumph in Group D as consecutive draws have left them third in the standings before a critical meeting at Sepahan in Iran, writes John McAuley.

Cosmin Olaroiu hopes his experience of competing against Iranian sides will serve Al Ahli well when the Dubai club meet Sepahan on Wednesday night in the Asian Champions League. Francois Nel/Getty Images
Cosmin Olaroiu hopes his experience of competing against Iranian sides will serve Al Ahli well when the Dubai club meet Sepahan on Wednesday night in the Asian Champions League. Francois Nel/Getty Images

Cosmin Olaroiu hopes his experience of competing against Iranian sides will serve Al Ahli well when the Dubai club meet Sepahan on Wednesday night in the Asian Champions League clash in Isfahan.

Ahli, top of the Arabian Gulf League, have yet to triumph in Group D, as consecutive draws have left them third in the standings. Olaroiu acknowledges Sepahan represent a sizeable test, especially in their Foolad Shahr Stadium, although he insists the trip holds no fear given last year he travelled to Iran when in charge of Al Ain. Then, Al Ain lost 2-0 to Esteghlal in Tehran.

“I know the Iranian teams very well and I’m aware of how they play,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a tough match and I hope we can enjoy the taste of a win in Isfahan.

“Sepahan have great desire to win this match. They are very powerful when they attack from the flanks, but we have thought about their strong points. I hope we’ll come out victorious.”

Sepahan are currently second in the group, and may feel this is an opportune time to play Ahli. The UAE side are in the middle of a programme in which they play 13 matches in seven weeks, yet Olaroiu says his players are still ready to return home with the points.

“The schedule has been very tight for us, but we are here to seize the win,” he said. “Three days later, we have another match in the [Arabian Gulf League], but we are prepared for both games.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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