Al Duhail not to take Ronaldo-less Al Nassr lightly in do-or-die match

Al Duhail not to take Ronaldo-less Al Nassr lightly in do-or-die match

QLNews
By QLNews

Fans who expected to watch Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in action in Doha on Tuesday may be disappointed, but they will still get to watch a cracker of a match.

When Al Duhail, semi-finalists of last season’s AFC Champions League, meet Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in a Group E match at the Khalifa International Stadium at 9pm today, it will be a do-or-die battle for the Qatari side.

Tickets for the matches had garnered huge interest and had been sold out well in advance.

Duhail has had a difficult run at this year’s AFC Champions League, having taken just a single point in their first three group matches. They began with a goalless draw against Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol before going down to Iran’s Persepolis FC (0-1) and Al Nassr (3-4).

With another defeat in today’s match meaning an early exit from the competition, Duhail will be prepared to fight hard for a win.

In addition to Ronaldo, Al Nassr has also rested former Manchester City star Aymeric Laporte and it will likely work to Duhail’s advantage.

However, they will still have to contend with Senegalese star striker Sadio Mane, who has played for big teams like Liverpool and Bayern Munich. Brazilian former Liverpool and Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho will be Duhail’s answer to Mane and it will be an exciting battle to look forward to.

Al Nassr coach Luis Castro cited fatigue as the reason for Ronaldo’s absence in Doha.

“Cristiano Ronaldo will not participate in the Al Duhail match due to fatigue. A few days ago, we played a Cup match that went into extra time, and 48 hours ago we played an important league match, so he cannot physically participate tomorrow,” the coach said during a pre-match Press conference.

“I wasn’t the one who decided on Cristiano’s absence, and these things happen in football. He’s 38 and does need a rest. He made the right decision as it’s a long season,” Castro added.

The Nassr coach said Laporte suffered an unspecified injury, which ruled him out of the game. But he felt the team could still take the win.

“We want to win and return with the three points. Laporte suffered an injury at home and I’ve preferred to rest him. We’re looking for our fourth win and qualification to the round of 16,” he said.

Al Duhail coach Christophe Galtier, who called Ronaldo’s absence ‘significant,’ warned his players not to take Al Nassr lightly.

“The absence of Ronaldo is significant, as he’s a decisive player. But Al Nassr has other international players such as Mane and Brozovic. But we want to win against Al Nassr tomorrow and achieve the three points,” the Frenchman said.

Duhail’s Brazilian star Philippe Coutinho said there was no pressure on them and they were focused on garnering a win.

“I’m looking forward to helping my team. There’s no pressure on the team and all we’re focusing on is giving our best and returning with a positive result,” he said.

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