Al Ain, Al Sadd qualify for group stage
© Foto-net

Al Ain sealed their place in the AFC Champions League with a comprehensive 4-0 defeat of Sriwijaya at Jaka Baring Stadium in Indonesia today.

Elias Ribeiro scored twice while Mohammed Haddaf and Omar Abdulrahman were also on target for the Middle Eastern side, who will play in Group F of the continental competition along with South Korean side FC Seoul, China's Hangzhou Greentown and Japanese giants Nagoya Grampus.

The hosts were up against from just the 12th minute when Haddaf opened the scoring after his run over the ball dumbfounded the keeper, allowing the forward to run through and tap into the empty net. 

Elias made it 2-0 just before the break when he converted a penalty before Omar Abdulrahman put the game beyond Sriwijaya with another spot kick six minutes into the second half. Elias rounded off the scoring with a well-hit volley in the 52nd minute to cement Al Ain's passage to the Asian Champions League.

Our players did great, exactly like my instructions. We are ready for the group phase. I hope we'll do well.
Alexandre Gallo, Al Ain coach

"I'm glad that we played well today," said Al Ain coach Alexandre Gallo. "Winning has been a habit in our domestic matches, but we rarely win by such a large margin. Our players did great, exactly like my instructions. We are ready for the group phase. I hope we'll do well."

Sriwijaya coach Ivan Kolev had no complaints with the result, saying: "We tried our best on the pitch, but Al Ain are playing in a different league. The only thing that makes me happy today is how my players didn't give up despite being two goals down at half time."

In the west zone play-off final, Al Sadd beat Dempo SC 2-0 at Sheik Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium to book their place in the group stage.  The hosts dominated for large spells of the match and opened the scoring just after the half-hour when Abdul Kader Keita headed home.

We have learnt a lot and it was a special game for us. I believe that playing against Al Sadd will give us a lot of lessons.
Armando Colaco, Dempo SC coach



Chances were at a premium for Dempo although Soleye Ranti Martins came close eight minutes into the second half when his well-struck shot was tipped over by keeper Saad Al Sheeb. But Al Sadd made the win safe a minute from time when Brazilian striker Leandro lofted a shot over the keeper. The Qataris will play in Group B of the Asian Champions League with Al Nassr, Esteghlal and Pakhtakor.

"I was hoping that our players would not underestimate the opponent and I was a little bit worried after Keita scored the opener but when Leandro scored the second goal, I was comfortable," said Al Sadd coach Jorge Fossati. "Dempo showed a big performance tonight and our team lacked the final touch in front of the goal. The match was interesting from the two teams and they had a good performance."

Dempo coach Armando Colaco had no complaints with the result and was happy with the performance of his players. "I'm satisfied with the performance despite the defeat tonight," he said. "We have learnt a lot and it was a special game for us. I believe that playing against Al Sadd will give us a lot of lessons."