Al Gharafa unlucky to lose to UAE’s Al Jazira, Duhail begin Asian campaign in style
Although the illegal blockade of Qatar has been going on for several months now, football had recently broken through when the Asian Football Confederation decided its Champions League matches should be played in the original home and away format.
This was despite Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s repeated demands to let matches involving Qatari clubs be played at neutral venues.
Al Gharafa became the first club from the country to travel to the UAE, to play their preliminary round match against Abu Dhabi’s Al Jazira. Although Al Gharafa fought hard, they lost the match against the UAE champions 2-3.
Brazilian Romarinho, who earlier played for Qatar’s El Jaish before they were merged with Lekhwiya, put Al Jazira ahead in the 10th minute, but new signing Mehdi Taremi equalised just a minute later on an assist by Moayad Hasan.
UAE star Ali Mabkhout restored the hosts’ lead in the 27th and Ahmed Al Attas consolidated in the 69th to put Al Jazira on the road to victory.
A 71st minute strike by former Dutch star Wesley Sneijder, who recently joined Al Gharafa, gave his club hope but Al Jazira held on to grab the three opening points.
Meanwhile, midfielder Karim Boudiaf scored twice in two minutes as Qatar’s Al Duhail began their campaign in style, beating Iran’s Zobahan 3-1 in their opening Group B match.
It was a comprehensive win for Djamel Belmadi’s side who displayed their ample potential to progress deep into the lucrative tournament.
“We were confident going into the match and the players ensured we bagged three points. I’m very happy with their show,” Belmadi said.
Picture courtesy: Gulf Times