Sharjah is playing at 12:15 midnight today, at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, a difficult confrontation against the Saudi Al Hilal, the continental title holder last season, and the winner of it four times in its history, in the first round for the first group in the group stage of the league The 2022 Asian Club Champions, which also includes Qatar’s Al Rayyan and Tajikistan’s Istiklal.
Despite the difficulty of the task, as Sharjah is facing a fierce competitor, who has a long experience in how to deal with this tournament, but at the same time he seeks to appear differently in this new version, and compete for the qualification card for the next round, knowing that Sharjah qualified for this role after winning Al-Zawraa Al-Iraqi defeated Al-Zawraa on penalties, after they tied 1-1 in the original and extra time.
The most prominent achievement of Sharjah in this tournament is reaching the quarter-finals in 2004, when Sharjah won this edition over Al Hilal with a big score of 5-2.
Sharjah’s participation in this new edition of the Asian Championship comes after the positive results it achieved in the past period, especially in the second round of the ADNOC Professional League, as it occupies fourth place in the teams’ standings, and played seven matches in the second round, won five, and tied one. He also lost in one match, in addition to qualifying for the final match in the President’s Cup against Al Wahda, scheduled for May 11.
The match is a great challenge for Sharjah coach, Romanian Cosmin, against his former team, Al Hilal Saudi, who previously coached him.
In this match, Sharjah is counting on its winning cards, represented by the Brazilian duo Cayo Lucas, Duraty and Congolese Malango, in addition to the high morale and readiness of the players, which appeared during the last match he played against Al Nasr, in the 20th round of the Professional League.
Sharjah coach Cosmin said that he knows his opponent’s capabilities well, but he will fight for every point, noting that his team’s goal is to win the qualification card, even if it is by achieving second place.
Although Sharjah suffers from some absences in its ranks, it has prepared well for this match, and for the tournament in general. The team trained in Riyadh, and went through the last training session before the upcoming confrontation.
On the other hand, the Saudi Al Hilal, who has previously won the title of this tournament four times, the last of which was the last version, seeks in turn to preserve its title, especially since the matches of this group are held on its land and in the midst of its fans.
Al-Hilal is called the leader or the Asian Century Club, and it has previously won this tournament four times in 1991, 2000, 2019 and 2021.
Historically, Sharjah and Al Hilal met twice in the AFC Champions League in 2004, as the first match ended in a goalless draw, while Sharjah won the second match 5-2.
During his last participation in the FIFA Club World Cup 2022, which was held in Abu Dhabi, Al Hilal presented a distinguished level, despite its exit from the competition, and is playing today’s match with high spirits, after qualifying for the final match in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup, after beating Al Shabab 2-1
Although the team loses two influential players, Salem Al-Dosari due to infection with the “Covid-19” virus, and the Peruvian player Andre Carrillo, due to an injury to the posterior knee ligament, the Argentine team coach Ramon Diaz confirmed during the match press conference that the absence of any player was compensated. He stressed that his team is trying to preserve the title.
Al Hilal coach described the Sharjah team as a team with high potential, and achieved good results in the UAE League.
According to the tournament system, the leader of each group qualifies directly to the next round, along with the best three seconds of teams from the West Asian group, and the same from the East of the continent.
• “The King” is counting on his winning cards in the face of “the title holder”… and a difficult test for Cosmin.
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