x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Jazira are on free-kick expert Juninho's radar

Al Jazira face one of the most feared dead-ball specialists in world football when the travel to Qatar to play Al Gharafa in the Asian Champions League (ACL).

Al Jazira face one of the most feared dead-ball specialists in world football tonight when the travel to Qatar to play Al Gharafa in the Asian Champions League (ACL).

Juninho Pernambucano, the former Lyon midfielder, is returning to his native Brazil and former club Vasco da Gama when his contract with Al Gharafa expires in June and he will want to sign off in style by helping his team reach the ACL quarter-finals.

Gharafa need a victory to maintain any hope of advancing from the group.

The 36-year-old, who won seven French league titles with Lyon, is famed for his ability from free kicks, regularly scoring from more than 40-yards out.

Juninho, who has won 40 caps for Brazil, will be earning just US$385 (Dh1,400) a month - near to the minimum wage in the country - at Vasco.

"Vasco and I are partners, for better or for worse," he told a press conference after signing the deal last week. "I came back to earn a minimum wage, because I need to be fair with the fans. I must bring results and if that happens I will be rewarded."

Jazira have no hope of reaching the knockout stage and will probably play a second string team tonight, especially as they are just one victory away from clinching the UAE Pro League title.

Meanwhile Japan's Kashima Antlers joined South Korean clubs Suwon Bluewings and Jeonbuk Hyundai in the last 16 of the Champions League by winning in yesterday's next-to-last round of the group stage.

In Group H, Shinzo Koroki scored twice to give Kashima a 2-0 win over Shanghai Shenhua, eliminating the Chinese team.

In the other game in the group, Suwon, the 2001 and 2002 champions, beat Sydney 3-1 to knock the Australian side out.

Suwon and Kashima both have nine points and an identical head-to-head record, but Suwon have a better goal difference by one going into the last round, when the Antlers host Sydney and the Bluewings travel to Shanghai.

In Group G, Jeonbuk won 2-1 at China's Shandong Luneng to advance. Lee Dong-gook, the South Korea striker, scored first in the 31st and hit the winner in the 52nd after Zhou Haibin had equalised for Shandong in the 40th.

Group rival Cerezo Osaka moved past Shandong into second place by winning 4-0 at Indonesia's Arema. Shandong must win at Cerezo in the last round to claim second place ahead of the Japanese club.