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Gross to work on Al Ahli's attack ahead of group stage

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Al Ahli-ACL2020

Jeddah: Head coach Christian Gross will be working on improving Al Ahli Saudi FC's attacking qualities ahead of the 2020 AFC Champions League group stage.

The club from Saudi Arabia advanced from the play-offs with a 1-0 win over Tajikistan's Istiklol FC on Tuesday, with Youcef Belaïli converting a penalty in stoppage time to take Al Ahli into the group stage for the sixth consecutive year.

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“We are happy to qualify to the group stage,” said Gross. “The players showed great spirit to win, especially as we knew that we would be playing against a defensive side.

“We deserved this victory and our perseverance saw us rewarded with the penalty."

#ACL2020 - Play-offs: Al Ahli Saudi FC 1-0 FC Istiklol

Gross, however, said Al Ahli need to improve on their attacking threat ahead of their Group A campaign against Al Wahda of the UAE, Iraq's Al Shorta and Esteghlal of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“I’m happy that we did not concede against Istiklol, something which we had not been able to do for the last two months.

"We must also improve on our our attacking abilities going into the group stage.”

👏 Teams for the #ACL2020 Group Stage are now confirmed!

— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) January 28, 2020

The Swiss praised goalscorer Belaïli, who held his nerves to score the penalty, and captain Hussein Abdulghani for their performance.

“Belaïli produced an excellent performance although he was playing in a new position,” said Gross about the Algerian international winger. “His goal was important and also, Abdulghani produced a great effort and should be praised.”

Belaïli was glad Al Ahli had managed to prise open the strong Istiklol defence.

“We missed several scoring chances but in the end, we managed to get away with a win against a solid and defensive team," said the 27-year-old.

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