Dubai: Al Jazira and Al Ain are still confident they can qualify from their Asian Champions League (ACL) groups despite both getting 1-1 draws away to Iranian opposition midweek.
Ali Khaseif made eight saves in Al Jazira’s 1-1 draw away to Tractor Sazi on Tuesday, which leaves them second in Group A on five points with two games remaining, after Romarinho’s 44th minute opener got cancelled out by Farzad Hatami on 78 minutes.
The Pride of Abu Dhabi are now level on points with third placed Al Gharafa of Qatar but ahead by a difference of two goals. They are also behind leaders Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia by three points, with an away trip to Al Gharafa on April 3, and a hosting of Al Ahli on April 17 still pending. Tractor Sazi are bottom on two points.
“I’m extremely proud that under very difficult circumstances we took the point,” said Al Jazira coach Henk ten Cate. “We were under a lot of pressure and did very well thanks to our fantastic keeper.
“For sure this result helps us, but there are other teams playing and we have six points still to collect, three away and three at home.”
Al Ain were also satisfied with their 1-1 draw away to Esteghlal on Monday after Tsukasa Shiotani rescued a point on 78 minutes following Mame Thiam’s opener on 42 minutes.
This result — their fourth successive draw — leaves The Boss third in Group D on four points, two points behind joint leaders Esteghlal and Qatar’s Al Rayyan and two points clear of Saudi’s Al Hilal.
Al Ain now host Al Hilal on April 2 before travelling to Al Rayyan on April 16.
“This was a positive result for us in front of 90,000 fans,” said Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic. “And I think all the Group D teams are still there.
“It was not easy at this ground, but my team did well and deserve to be congratulated. There are only two games left and the time has come to win to ensure we qualify for the knockouts.”
Elsewhere, Al Wasl crashed out of the competition with a 1-0 defeat at home to Iran’s Persepolis on Tuesday with Kamal Kamyabinia getting the game’s only goal on 37 minutes.
Al Wahda also slightly raised their chances of qualifying with a 3-0 win at home to Iran’s Zob Ahan on Monday. Their first win of the tournament still leaves them bottom of Group B level on three points with Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv Tashkent, but they are lower than the Uzbeks by a difference of six goals.
Qatar’s Al Duhail are top and have already qualified on 12 points, while Zob Ahan are second on six points. Al Wahda are at home to Lokomotiv on April 3 and away to Al Duhail on April 17.