Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 14 October 2019

Asian Champions League: Henk ten Cate urges Al Wahda players to make big push for knockout stages

Abu Dhabi club retain top spot in Group B with 4-3 win over Al Rayyan after trailing 2-0 and 3-1 before half time

Leonardo, centre, was the star for Al Wahda against Al Rayyan, scoring all four goals in their thrilling victory. AFP 
Leonardo, centre, was the star for Al Wahda against Al Rayyan, scoring all four goals in their thrilling victory. AFP 

Al Wahda manager Henk ten Cate has called on his players to complete qualification for the Asian Champions League knockout stages following their remarkable comeback victory against Al Rayyan on Monday.

The Abu Dhabi club, attempting to reach the knockouts for the first time in 12 years, found themselves 2-0 down in the first six minutes at Al Nahyan Stadium, before then rallying from 3-1 down to seal an incredible turnaround right at the death.

Forward Leonardo scored twice in the final eight minutes, including a last-minute winner, to end the game with all four goals in Wanda’s barely believable 4-3 win. The triumph means the UAE side top Group B and need only one point from their two remaining matches to progress. Next they take on Uzbekistan’s PFC Lokomotiv, at home, on May 7.

“The chances [of qualification]?” Ten Cate said. “We have two matches to get only one point. We should finish it off next week, the next game at home. It would be great if we could do that for our supporters.

“It’s a long time that Al Wahda qualified for the next stage, and especially the way we did it with the home games we played. We scored four against Al Ittihad, and four now, in spectacular games. I hope we get a good result in the next game and we can celebrate with the supporters.

“This is a fantastic result. A good second half... a really good second half. I saw the hunger in the team so I pushed them to go more, to go for the victory. We took a risk, of course, but we brought a fresh attacker on. We wanted this. And it worked out. Very happy, very happy. Very proud. What a game.”

Having guided capital rivals Al Jazira to President’s Cup and Arabian Gulf League success, Ten Cate arrived at Wahda in December as a replacement for Romanian Laurentiu Reghecampf. Since then, his team have won 10 of their 16 matches.

“I came in the end of December, the team was just down,” the Dutchman said. “It took us some time to get everybody going again. We showed what we wanted from the team, and the team is responding very well.

“This is a big compliment to them, because they were really down, really down, and you see what they do now. They set for themselves now the benchmark of where they have to go, also for next season. This is what they are capable of; this is what they want. This is what we want to see. Especially the spirit and the hard work they do every game. It’s great. It’s not easy to come back after 3-1, but they did.”

Updated: April 23, 2019 05:57 PM

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