Zreik chasing his dream
Beirut: Winning the 2019 AFC Cup is the dream for Al Ahed striker Ahmad Zreik after he helped his side secure qualification to the West Asia Zonal Semi-Finals with a 2-1 win over Malkiya Club on Monday.
The Lebanese side ended the group stage unbeaten and hit 14 points with the win at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium to advance as Group C winners.
Zreik brought Al Ahed level in the 34th minute after Malkiya had taken the lead through Isa Abdulbari. A Khalil Khamis' header sealed the win for the hosts in the second half.
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“We knew what our objective was coming into this game,” said the 28-year-old.
“Malkiya scored an early goal which caught us off guard a bit, but by now we have enough experience in the team to know how to handle such situations, which we did. We regrouped and came back into the game.”
The win on Monday meant Al Ahed have reached the AFC Cup knock-out stages for the fifth time out of nine appearances in the competition. Their best result remains reaching the semi-finals in 2016, when they lost to eventual winners Air Force Club.
“Qualification is now secured. I want to congratulate our fans, the staff and the players. Now we have to look ahead and work even harder.
“We have reached the knock-out stages multiple times, but always failed to go far. This year has to be different. We all must work together and be smart about it, because this year we have a good chance of going all the way."
Zreik was amongst the scorers in the Zonal Semi-finals second leg last May as Al Ahed settled for a 2-2 draw at home following a 3-1 loss at Air Force Club a week earlier. The forward believes there were lessons to be learnt from the experience.
“Nothing is easy. We have our eyes set on our objectives and we must stay focused. In previous years, our downfall was our own mistakes. Now we have experience, and we should learn from our mistakes. Winning the AFC Cup is a dream for us and we have to work towards it one step at a time.”
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