AFC Champions League 2017: Al Ain to Square off Against Al Hilal in an Exceptional


The draw for the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League 2017 dedicated for the last eight teams resulted in exceptionally strong confrontations where Al Ain will meet Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in a match that could be described as an early final of the West Asian clubs. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli will take on Iran’s Persepolis. The draw also resulted in all-Chinese and all-Japanese quarterfinals for the West Asia Clubs with Shanghai SIPG meeting Guangzhou Evergrande, while Kawasaki Frontale take on Urawa Red Diamonds.
It is scheduled that Al Ain will host Al Hilal in the first leg at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on Monday 21st August 2017, while Al Hilal will host Al Ain in the return match at Prince Faisal Bin Fahad Stadium on 11th September.

On the sidelines of the workshop help prior the announcement of the draw results of AFC Champions League and AFC Cup, AFC’s officials highly praised Al Ain Club for setting an exemplary model of commitment to all required standards set by the AFC. South Korea’s Shane Mann Gill, Manager of AFC Competitions, applauded Al Ain Club’s initiatives accompanied the AFC Champions League matches of the First Team.

H.E. Ahmed Humaid Al Mazroui, Vice Chairman of Al Ain Football Club Company and representative of Al Ain Club in the draw for the AFC Champions League held on Tuesday 6th June in Kuala Lumpur, expressed his pride and honor by Al Ain Club’s high ranking on all levels in Asia. He further explained, “What made me feel proud is when the AFC’s Officials presented an introductory presentation of all the qualifying clubs of the 2017 AFC Champions League quarterfinals where the impressive slides denoted our lofty sport entity, Al Ain FC, as a notable example.”

He went on to say, “The slides of the introductory presentation were full of praise and commendation and highly underlining Al Ain’s cooperation and commitment to the most professional best practices. The workshop included video clips of the best football stadium in the world, Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, along with the marketing initiatives, media campaigns accompanied the team’s matches during the Asian Championship and Al Ain fans’ creativity. The AFC’s Officials emphasized that Al Ain FC set a perfect model for a professional football club that indeed should be emulated.”

H.E. Al Mazroui described Al Ain’s upcoming match against KSA’s Al Hilal as an early final match of the West Asia. He confirmed, “I do believe that the chances of all the qualifying teams to the quarter-finals stage of the AFC Champions League are equal to win the valued continental title; they all deservedly qualified to this sage. However, the team who opt to snatch the title is required to win all the competitors through the superb preparations for the next stage.”

Commenting on a question on whether he had already expected to face Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal before commencing the draw, he said, “Certainly, expectations always dominate the atmosphere prior any draw. Personally, I did expect to encounter the Saudi Arabian team once I arrived at Kuala Lumpur Airport and recognized the AFC representative tasked to receive delegations of the participating clubs in the draw. He was holding a sign with the AFC Logo and the two names of Al Ain and Al Hilal Clubs were written underneath it.”
He added, “I think the team who aspires to compete and win the title of the AFC Champions League is required to prevail over all its competitors. It is fact that Al Ain has become a difficult figure in Asia and enjoys the strong personality that has led the team to achieve the best results. All of this made the observers and the AFC Officials during the last three seasons to designate Al Ain on their lists as one of the most prominent contenders to win the continental title.”

He also stated, “Absolutely, the current generation enjoys the experience of playing in enormous continental confrontations and they possess the great potentials. The team players have a solid desire to achieve their personal aspirations, translate the supreme care and generous support of the wise leadership of the club and finish off the competition by restoring the continental title to our beloved country and replicate the Asian triumph achieved by Al Ain FC in 2003.”

In his response to a question on Al Ain’s chances to be part of the final match for the second year in a row, he said, “I stated before that the eight teams have equal chances of reaching the final match, but I can assure you that I picked up the champs’ spirit in the players’ performance and personality during the team’s recent match against Iran’s Esteghlal Tehran. It is not a secret to keep that I felt optimistic following the announcement of the draw results, particularly Al Ain won Iran’s Esteghlal Tehran in 2003 and take over Al Hilal in the same stage prior qualifying to the final round and snatch the AFC’s Title that year.”

He pointed out, “Football do not rely on history or expectations as much as it rewards the most competitive team and the one covets to achieve the desired goals at the level of local and continental challenges. He concluded by saying, “Indeed, we, in Al Ain club, are well aware of what is required during the following phase. We have full confidence in the choices of the Head Coach as well as the players of the team and do hop them all the best reconciliation from Allah Almighty.”