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ACL2020 Group A - Preview: Al Shorta (IRQ) v Al Ahli Saudi FC (KSA)

 Doha: Marko Marin believes he can take his game to new heights as the 2020 AFC Champions League rumbles on with his Al Ahli Saudi FC eyeing a repeat of their 1-0 win over Iraq’s Al Shorta when the two sides meet in Group A on Thursday.

The former German international winger joined Al Ahli from Red Star Belgrade in January, but the Saudi Pro League’s COVID-19 enforced break followed by a muscular injury meant he had not played competitively for six months before putting on a Man of The Match performance, including a late winner against Al Shorta on Monday.

And with qualification to the Round of 16 guaranteed, Al Ahli now eye the top spot in Group A in hope it would help them avoid reigning champions Al Hilal who eliminated them at the same stage in 2019 and now hold the top spot in Group B after three matches.

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“It was my first official match in six months, so of course there is a lot of room to improve,” said the former Chelsea winger.

“I feel that game by game I can get better physically and on the pitch. I hope I can show that in every match.

“We always want to win. The preparation until now has been focused on recovering as quickly as possible for the next game. Today we will analyse the game and watch videos. We prepared well for the last game and now we know even more about Al Shorta and will be totally focused on winning.”

Al Shorta go into Matchday Four with a point, but a win against Esteghlal in the following game will send them to the Round of 16 for the first time in their history regardless of the result of their Thursday fixture on Thursday, while beating Al Ahli would not be enough if they lose to the Iranians next.

“We don’t want to dwell too much on the first match,” said head coach Abdulghani Shahd.

“We would rather focus on the next match and the group as a whole. Winning against Esteghlal is the key, but that does not mean we should ignore tomorrow, but in order to guarantee qualification we have to beat Esteghlal.

Group A - MD3: Al Ahli Saudi FC 1-0 Al Shorta

“Also remember it will be the first game for Esteghlal, so they will be well rested. This is the reality of things and we are well prepared for tomorrow, but we also have to think about the group as a whole not just tomorrow.”

Al Shorta (IRQ) v Al Ahli Saudi FC (KSA)
Venue: Khalifa International Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: September 17, 18:00 UTC+3

Poll ends at 23:00 (UTC +8) on September 17.

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