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The Group Stage: What They Said

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Kuala Lumpur: With the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 set to kick-off with the East showdowns next week, we look back at some of the best quotes from the Group Stage's six rounds of matches.

Births, super star performances, debuts, opportunities and sleepless nights all feature as reviews our What They Said series from the last four months of action.

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I'm very happy with the birth of [my son] Bandar and to win the first game of the group stage against a big team like Al Ain.”

It was a perfect Matchday One for Al Hilal veteran Mohammad Al Shalhoub, who scored the only goal of the game against Al Ain just hours after the arrival of his new baby boy.

A key win in the ACL race:3 points in the bag.
Good performance of the team in Al Ain and “the spell is broken” 🙏🏿
Congratulations to the man of the match @mbsh_10 for the new born. Wishing him a long life of happiness Inchallah #legend

— Bafétimbi Gomis (@BafGomis) March 5, 2019

"I didn't even know that I scored, and only realised when the fans started cheering and my teammates came to celebrate with me.”

Daegu FC goalscorer Kim Dae-won was the last to know he'd opened his AFC Champions League account on Matchday Two, in a famous 3-1 win over Guangzhou Evergrande, after the ball bounced back into play off the inside of the side netting.

“We benefit a lot from him. Today, he played a huge game and scored two great goals, and to be honest, this is Xavi, you expect him to do that.”

Hamid Ismaeil was full of praise for Xavi Hernandez after the skipper scored twice in Al Sadd’s 2-2 draw against Pakhtakor on Matchday Three.

He’s still got it 🔥

Xavi Hernandez lights up the Asian Champions League with two stunning goals for Al Sadd.

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 9, 2019

"It's the first AFC Champions League season for me as I made my Continental debut just last month. So, it's a great chance to get more experience, while I could improve my skills game by game."

Lokomotiv 'keeper Javohir Ilyosov took part in his debut campaign, and on Matchday Four spoke about the significance of playing at Continental club football's highest level.

"When people talk about forwards, it'll surely be about the foreign players. For me, the absence of foreign players give me an opportunity and this was the time for me to prove what I can do and provide for the team."

On Matchday Five, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) match-winner Syafiq Ahmad took full advantage of his chance to start up front due to the suspension of Brazilian star Diogo. The young forward scored the game's only goal as JDT defeated holders Kashima Antlers to win their first-ever AFC Champions League tie.

69' - GOAL!! 1-0 Johor Darul Ta'zim!!

JDT have taken the lead against the odds here as Syafiq Ahmad dances past one Kashima defender to get inside the box and then curls his shot into the far post! Johor lead against the Asian champions!!! #ACL2019 #JDTvKAS

— FOX Sports LIVE! (@FSAsiaLive) May 8, 2019

“Last night when I got back to my hotel, I could hardly sleep – the goal, the moment, the atmosphere among the fans, it was like a movie that kept playing over and over in my head all night long."

Li Shenglong had a Matchday Six to remember after scoring his first ever AFC Champions League goal in Shanghai SIPG's 5-0 win over Ulsan Hyundai that secured a place in the Round of 16.

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