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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Asian Champions League: Marcus Berg says Al Ain 'must go for it' if they are to overturn Al Duhail

  • UAE champions lost first leg of last-16 clash 4-2 at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium
  • Sweden striker Berg backs his side to put in a much-improved display in their final match of the 2017/18 season
Al Ain's Marcus Berg, right, wasn't on the scoresheet as Qatari club Al Duhail one the first leg of their last-16 Asian Champions League encounter at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. Karim Sahib / AFP
Al Ain's Marcus Berg, right, wasn't on the scoresheet as Qatari club Al Duhail one the first leg of their last-16 Asian Champions League encounter at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. Karim Sahib / AFP

Marcus Berg says Al Ain are ready to show “another face” on Tuesday as they look to overturn their Asian Champions League deficit against Al Duhail and claim a place in the quarter-finals.

The UAE champions go into the second leg of their last-16 tie trailing 4-2. Al Ain started poorly last week's initial encounter at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium and were 4-0 down after 55 minutes before goals from substitutes Ahmed Khalil and Ibrahim Diaky gave the hosts hope.

Al Ain, Champions League runners-up two years ago, know they will have their work cut out to turn around the scoreline when the two sides meet in Doha. Duhail, the Qatar champions, have won their past 19 matches across all competitions and boast a 100 per cent record in this year’s tournament.

However, striker Berg is backing his side to put in a much-improved display in their final match of the 2017/18 season and progress to the last eight.

“I’m sure it will be a different game, for us a different face,” he said. “We must go for it. We managed to score two goals in the end, so it’s really important for us that we can build on that. We know that if we play on our level the result will be different on Tuesday. For sure, it will be another game to the first leg.

“With all the respect to Duhail – they are a good team – but we didn’t play our best game at home, maybe one of my worst games since I came here, for me and the team. So we have a lot of things to make better and I’m sure we will.”

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Asked why Al Ain were so poor in the first leg, Berg responded: “I don’t know. It’s a lot of reasons, but we can discuss that another time. We must refocus only, to show who we really are. I’m sure we’ll do that in the next game.”

The first leg aside, Berg has enjoyed much success in his debut season at Al Ain. His 25 goals in 21 Arabian Gulf League appearances fired Al Ain to a first UAE championship in three years and secured him the Golden Boot, while he scored in the President’s Cup final as Zoran Mamic’s team clinched a historic double.

On Thursday night, Berg was recognised for his prolificacy at the Arabian Gulf League Awards, where he was named in the season’s Best XI at a ceremony dominated by Al Ain. The Garden City club collected the majority of the major prizes, including best Emirati (Omar Abdulrahman) and best manager (Mamic).

On securing the Golden Boot, Berg said: “Of course, I can’t say it’s important overall, but it’s a nice thing. For me, it’s more important to do the double. Without that I wouldn’t be happy to stay here.

“But because the team achieved great results, it’s also easy for individuals to shine. That’s why we got a lot of the prizes.”

MATCH INFO

Asian Champions League, last 16, first leg:

Al Ain 2 Al Duhail 4

Second leg:

Tuesday, Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium, Doha. Kick off 7.30pm

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