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UAE’s Al-Ahli beats Saudi’s Al-Hilal at semi-final match

Al-Ahli wins three goals against Al-Hilil, reaches Asian Champions League final

Published: Updated:

UAE’s Al-Ahli won against Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal (3:2) after they played the second leg of their Asian Champions League (ACL) semi-final on Tuesday.

The likes of World Cup winning captains Fabio Cannavaro and Diego Maradona have been lured to play or coach in the wealthy region in recent years, but sustained continental success has proved elusive with only one Gulf club - Qatar’s Al-Sadd - crowned Asian champions in the past decade.

Ahli coach Cosmin Olroiu led Hilal to the Saudi title in 2008 and also took charge of the kingdom’s national team at this year’s Asia Cup, but he played down any advantage this experience might provide.

“In football everyone has the tendency to believe football is a science, or mathematical,” the Romanian told a news conference. “Football is a show, it is made by artists and in any moment they improvise, they can do things that are not expected.

“My knowledge of them helps, but it will not be the deciding factor. Whoever has more psychological power, more strength, they will succeed.”

Hilal will also look to two Brazilians for inspiration. Ailton, a journeyman striker recruited from Europe’s minor leagues, and muscular midfielder Carlos Eduardo, 25, have scored nine goals in six ACL and Saudi league matches between them since signing in the summer.

In the other semi-final, Japan’s Gamba Osaka will attempt to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit at home to China’s Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday.

(With Reuters)