Salman delighted with ‘hard-fought’ qualification
Doha: Al Sadd defender Tarek Salman commended his side for earning a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Al Ahli which sent the Qatari side to the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 on Monday.
Ali Asad and Akram Afif scored inside the opening 15 minutes and Omar Al Somah pulled one back for Al Ahli in the second half in Doha as the hosts sealed the three points to book their place in the knock-out stage with a game to spare.
With qualification confirmed, the 2011 AFC Champions League winners can now take a breather following a busy season in which they lifted the Qatar Stars League title for the first time in six years and reached the Emir Cup semi-final just four days ahead of their win over Al Ahli.
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“We had a busy calendar this season,” said Salman. “We were a bit tired, especially as this is the first day of Ramadan and many of the players were fasting.
“Fatigue impacted us, especially in the second half, but the players fought hard and we got the all-important three points, so we are extremely delighted with that.”
Top scorer with 13 goals in the 2018 AFC Champions League, Al Sadd striker Baghdad Bounedjah endured a frustrating evening at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, missing several chances to a combination of profligacy and some impressive goalkeeping by Al Ahli’s Mohammed Al Owais.
“The first half was straightforward. We had more than five chances, but we missed more than we should. Fortunately, we scored two of those chances and that was crucial."
“In the second half, we made some defensive mistakes and conceded a penalty. But we were in control of the rhythm of the match and succeeded in holding until the end to win."
Al Sadd travel to Tehran in two weeks’ time to face already-eliminated Persepolis in a repeat of last year’s semi-final. Jesualdo Ferreira’s men will look to get a result to end the group stage as group winners.
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