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Football: Qatar’s Al Sadd tackle Iranian champions in ACL last 16

Former AFC Champions League winners Al Sadd from Qatar will face unbeaten Iranian champions Foolad Khouzestan in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie on Wednesday. Photo: WSG.

Qatar’s Al Sadd (in white), the 2011 AFC Champions League winners, will face unbeaten Iranian champions Foolad Khouzestan in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie on Wednesday, ahead of next week’s return ties. Photo: WSG.

May 6, 2014: Former winners Al Sadd from Qatar will face a tough test of their AFC Champions League credentials when they host Iranian champions Foolad Khouzestan in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie at Sheik Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Wednesday.

 

Al Sadd won the AFC Champions League in 2011 to add to their 1989 Asian Club Championship success and last month sealed a return to the knockout stage as a last-gasp 2-1 home win over UAE’s Al Ahli secured second place in Group D.

 

Khouzestan are also on a high after claiming their second Iran Pro League title at the beginning of April. The Ahvaz-based team are in unfamiliar territory, having crashed out in the group stage of their only previous AFC Champions League campaign in 2006.

 

However, Hossein Faraki’s side have impressed this year, topping Group B ahead of Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor with an unbeaten record, and underlined their potency in front of goal with a 5-1 drubbing of Saudi Arabia’s Al Fateh in the final round of group-stage fixtures at the end of last month.

 

“I’m extremely happy with this result, especially as we gave the chance to some of our new players to prove themselves,” Faraki said after the win over Al Fateh. “The players showed great will and desire to achieve a victory and we dominated the entire match.”

 

Also on Wednesday, Bunyodkor will entertain two-time Asian champions Al Hilal. Last month, Bunyodkor’s Sardor Rashidov scored a dramatic winner deep into stoppage time as the two-time semi-finalists defeated Qatar’s El Jaish 2-1 to snatch second place in Group B.

 

Al Hilal booked a seventh consecutive appearance in the Round of 16 after a 1-0 victory over Iran’s Sepahan in Riyadh secured top spot in Group D and a trip to Tashkent for the first leg.

 

In the East

Korea Republic’s FC Seoul will have to overcome Kawasaki Frontale if they are to follow up last year’s final appearance, with Choi Yong-soo’s side travelling to Japan for the first leg on Wednesday.

 

FC Seoul, who lost last year’s final to China’s Guangzhou Evergrande on the away goals rule, lost to Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the group stage on their previous visit to Japan, but qualified as Group F winners with a 2-1 win over Beijing Guoan at home.

 

Kawasaki secured second place in Group H behind Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers after recording a 3-1 win over 2012 champions Ulsan Hyundai in Japan.

 

Hiroshima entertain debutants Western Sydney after the J.League champions qualified for the last 16 for the first time following a 1-0 win over Australia’s Central Coast Mariners.

 

Western Sydney topped Group H ahead of Kawasaki with a superior goal difference following a 5-0 victory over China’s Guizhou Renhe.

 

For more information, visit: www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league

 

Source: WSG

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