Clubs eye AFC Cup semis
Last year's AFC Cup runners-up Al Karamah are confident of cementing their place in the semi-finals of the tournament when they tackle Thailand's Muang Thong in their quarter-final second leg match at Thunderdome Stadium tomorrow.
The Syrians secured a 1-0 win in the first leg last week to give them the psychological edge over the Thais in Bangkok. However, Muang Thong are able to boast an impressive home record having not lost in front of their own fans all season in their domestic league.
"The match will be very difficult," said Al Karamah coach Mohammad Kwid. "I regret that we did not score more in the first leg. Muang Thong rarely lose at home and are very organised with a good coach and great players but I believe that our past experience in both the AFC Cup and the AFC Champions League will carry us through to the next round."
Muang Thong coach Rene Desaeyere knows it will not be easy for his side either but believes they can claim victory if they play at their very best. "To go through we will have to have a very good day," he said. "To get something from this match we either need to play with the same mentality or play with more skill than them all over the pitch."
Vietnamese side Da Nang have an even tougher task of reaching the semi-finals as they need to overturn a three-goal deficit when they host Bahrain's Al Riffa at Chi Long Stadium.
Al Riffa secured a comfortable 3-0 win in the first leg and though Da Nang are able to welcome star striker Gaston Merlo back from suspension it will undoubtedly be difficult for the home side to claim an even bigger victory margin tomorrow.
Nevertheless, coach Le Huynh Duc is just keen for his players to give their all. "I hope my players will play with all their hearts and try to defeat Al Riffa," he said. "If we fall again we must do so playing good football to ensure we say farewell to the AFC Cup on a high."
Al Riffa coach Jose Garrido knows his players must not become complacent and urged them to finish the job in Vietnam. "I want my players to keep their feet on the ground and focus totally on the game to secure our place in the last four of the AFC Cup," he said. "I have to be cautious as nothing is impossible in football."
Al Qadsia host Thailand's Thai Port at Mohammed Al Hamad Stadium with all to play for after the first leg ended goalless. The Kuwait league champions will be slight favourites for the match given that they have home advantage.
"We are confident that we can win the game although we don't expect that the match will be easy for us," said Al Qadsia assistant coach Goran Matkovic. "We must have a good performance and at the same time be aware of the danger of the Thai team."
Thai Port coach Wattana Phochanakong also believes his side can earn a place in the semi-finals with victory in Kuwait. "We are determined to win and defeat Al Qadsia in order to advance to the next stage," he said. "We have prepared well for the game and we are looking forward to having a good performance."