It has been an absolutely thrilling start for the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) 2012 Champions League so far! The preliminary rounds are over and the semi-finalists have been chosen. It has been a challenging journey but through it all the Saudi Arabian team has risen to the top with not one, but two teams qualifying for the semi-finals!
Although the Saudi team, Al Hilal, was eliminated from the league due to a challenging match against the Korean Republic’s Ulsan Hyundai team, both the Saudi teams — Al Ittihad and Al Ahli — are in with a promising chance of going through to the final round!
Al Ahli (Ahli meaning ‘the national’ in Arabic) player Amad Al Hosni scored a crucial goal just before half time in an intense match against the Iranian champions Sepahan, which was vital in securing Al Ahli’s place in the semi-finals, explains team coach Karel Jarolim. This is the team’s first time to qualify for the semi-finals so they will be in full force fighting for their chance to be in the next round.
Al Ittihad, fondly known as ‘The Tigers’, are also preparing themselveswith the final in mind. After enjoying two AFC Champions League wins in 2004 and 2005 the team are hungry for a taste of victory again. With their star player 23 year-old Naif Hazazi, Al Ittihad will surely be in good reach of their goal, as Hazazi is currently considered one of the best and youngest strikers in the Middle East.
What a nail-biting semi-final it will be! Al Ahli will play Al Ittihad on Monday, 22 October, 2012 (kick-off at 20:00 local KSA time) for the first leg, and then again on Wednesday, 31 October, 2012 (kick-off at 20:00 local KSA time) for the second and final leg of the semi-finals. Both matches will be played at the impressive Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah, giving both teams the added advantage of having home-ground support from their avid football fans.