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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 March 2019

Al Ain v Al Hilal in the Asian Champions League: teams, form guide and where to watch on TV

Zoran Mamic returns to the Garden City with Al Hilal two months after leaving his job as Al Ain manager

Zoran Mamic left his post as Al Ain manager at the end of January to take charge of Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal. AP Photo
Zoran Mamic left his post as Al Ain manager at the end of January to take charge of Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal. AP Photo

UAE champions Al Ain kick off their 2019 Asian Champions League campaign on Tuesday when they host Saudi Arabian champions Al Hilal.

The game has the added twist of seeing Zoran Mamic take charge of an opposing team at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium 10 months after guiding the Garden City club to historic league-and-cup double in 2017/18.

Mamic, 47, stepped down as Al Ain manager in January to replace Jorge Jesus at Al Hilal. Spaniard Juan Carlos Garrido will be the man in charge of Al Ain for Tuesday's Group C encounter.

Al Ain will be denied a double reunion as playmaker Omar Abdulrahman is unavailable as he continues his recover from knee surgery. Here is all you need to know ahead of the match.

Who?

Al Ain are placed alongside Saudi Arabia title holders Al Hilal as well as Qatar's Al Duhail and Esteghlal of Iran Group C this year's Asian Champions League. Al Ain, the only team from the Emirates to have lifted the Asian Champions League, in 2003, face two-time champions Al Hilal at home in their opening match while Esteghlal travel to Doha.

Where does the match take place?

Tuesday's match takes place at Al Ain's 25,000-seater Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. Kick off is slated for 7.20pm.

Form guide

Al Ain's recent form is a cause for concern. Last Thursday's defeat to Shabab Al Ahli Dubai saw them fall eight points behind Arabian Gulf League leaders Sharjah. More worrying for new manager Garrido is that the last six matches has yielded only two wins across in all competitions, with the Spaniard's record from his two games in charge reading won one and lost one.

Al Hilal, by contrast, are unbeaten in seven matches since Mamic took charge at the start of February, winning six with one draw coming against Ittihad Alexandria in the Arab Club Championship.

The Riyadh club, winners of Asian club football's premier tournament in 1991 and 2000, are six points clear at the top of their domestic league.

Key players

Marcus Berg continues to be the main source of goals for Al Ain. The Sweden striker's 13 strikes in 18 games this term is a healthy return by anyone's standards, although a quick glance at the Arabian Gulf League scoring charts sees him trail the division's 17-goal top marksman Ali Mabkhout by seven.

Veteran centre-back Ismail Ahmed continues to marshal the defence in front of UAE No 1 goalkeeper Khalid Eisa, while further forward Amer Abdulrahman and Ahmed Barman will be expected to be the main supply route for Berg.

Much like Al Ain, Hilal's main goal threat comes from a European player with some pedigree. Former Lyon, Swansea City and Galatasaray striker Bafetimbi Gomis has scored 17 top-flight goals and laid on seven assists for his Hilal teammates as they look to defend their Saudi Pro League crown.

The club's attacking ranks were further bolstered in January with the signing of Italy forward Sebastian Giovinco from Toronto FC and the former Juventus player has three goals from as many games since moving to the Saudi capital.

Recent meetings

The pair met twice in the group stages of last year's competition, with Al Ain earning a 0-0 draw in Riyad before winning the return fixture 2-1 thanks to a pair of Marcus Berg penalties in an encounter that saw Mohamed Abdulrahman was sent off late in the game.

The two sides also met in the 2017 competition with Al Hilal advancing to the semi-finals 3-0 aggregate winners after holding Al Ain to a goalless draw in the first leg.

Tickets

You can book tickets for the match at http://alainclub.ae/fc/en/tickets-cards-2/.

TV

You can watch selected matches on BeIN Sports.

Updated: March 5, 2019 02:38 PM

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