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Preview - Group A: AGMK in the way as Shabab Al Ahli target AFC Champions League revival 


Riyadh: It's win or bust for Shabab Al Ahli Dubai when they face AGMK FC in Group A of the 2021 AFC Champions League on Saturday. 

UAE's Shabab Al Ahli find themselves bottom of the group with only one point, six adrift of leaders Al Hilal SFC, and must beat AGMK of Uzbekistan at the King Fahd International Stadium if they are to remain in contention for a place in the Round of 16.

AGMK, meanwhile, are still in the running for top spot in the group - which secures direct qualification to the Round of 16 - with four points.

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Shabab Al Ahli's 2021 campaign began with a 0-0 draw with Tajikistan's FC Istiklol, but things took a turn for the worse for the 2015 runners-up as they suffered a 2-0 loss against Al Hilal which was then followed by a late AGMK revival which saw the Uzbekistan side claiming a 2-1 win on Matchday Three.

The defeat to AGMK mean's Mahdi Ali's charges have no room for error if they are to make the Round of 16 for the third consecutive season.

"We are well prepared for this match, and we will improve our level of performance to get a positive result," said Ali. "As long as we create opportunities, it means that we’ve been playing well, but sometimes these opportunities are not translated into goals.

"We need to do our best in the next match. It’s true that our performance has been poor in this group but we still have hope from the upcoming matches to qualify, but we’ll need results and wins. We need to be focused, and we are not thinking about anything else other than the match tomorrow."

2021 AFC Champions League: AGMK FC (UZB) 2-1 Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (UAE)

AGMK have been enjoying a relatively successful debut as they opened with a highly commendable 2-2 draw against 2019 AFC Champions League winners Al Hilal. That was followed by a 3-2 defeat against Istiklol in a tie AGMK matched their Central Asian neighbours.

AGMK left it late in the Matchday Three encounter against Shabab Al Ahli, scoring in the 86th and second minute of added time to secure their first-ever AFC Champions League win.

Another three points on Saturday will mean AGMK will remain in the running for a Round of 16 spot and head coach Mirdjalal Kasimov will galvanise his players to give it their all against Shabab Al Ahli.

"We haven’t crossed the winning line yet, and in front of us is a tough match," said Kasimov. "Some fatigue might be seen in the players so it’s going to be a difficult match. 

"We will try to play the game that we have played so far. We will have to make the opponents make mistakes, and it also depends on how well their goalkeeper plays as it will affect the result, but we will be playing our own game tomorrow."


Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (UAE) v AGMK FC (UZB)
Venue: King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh
Kick-off: Saturday, 22:00 hours (UTC+3)

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