AFC Champions League hopes at stake in AGMK, Al Hilal showdown

Al Hilal lost their spot at the top of the group after suffering an amazing 4-1 defeat to FC Istiklol on Matchday Four, with the Tajikistan taking pole position on a better head-to-head record with the Saudi Pro League side with both on seven points.

AGMK may be bottom of the group with four points but are still very much in the running going into the final two Matchdays.

AGMK opened their debut AFC Champions League campaign with a 2-2 draw against Al Hilal and then suffered a 3-2 defeat to Central Asian neighbours Istiklol. That was followed by their best performance of the tournament as Mirdjalal Kasimov's side scored two late goals to secure a 2-1 win against Shabab Al Ahli.

They were, however, unable to reproduce the same performance in the rematch on Matchday Four as Shabab Al Ahli cruised to a 3-1 victory, courtesy of three first half goals but AGMK still in a position to extend their debut campaign, Kasimov will urge them to take the game to Al Hilal.

Mirdjalal Kasimov - AGMK FC head coach - ACL2021

"Each team has equal chances to finish top of the group," said Kasimov. "There’s also a flip side if we lose. We need to do our best to record all three points.

"We know a lot about Al Hilal, and they also lost in the previous match. The one to make mistakes will lose the game, so we will need to play carefully in every position to win the match.

"We’ve made some rotations to our team, so we’ve been handling the issue of fatigue well.

"Al HIlal is considered one of the strongest clubs in Asia, but anything can happen in football, where nobody is guaranteed victory. It’s not a good idea to play against them openly, we need to play carefully, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow."

Rogerio Micale's Al Hilal know they have to redeem themselves for the defeat to Istiklol, which their head coach described as unacceptable.

The quality in the Al Hilal ranks means there would have been much soul searching following the loss to Istiklol but the best way to respond will be by playing their best, especially as qualification to the next stage remains within reach.

Rogerio Micale - Al Hilal SFC head coach - ACL2021

"We must focus well in this match, because we’ve faced them before," said Micale.

"We have analysed things from our previous match. And based on the last match with AGMK, we’ve looked into our mistakes and will correct them.

"We will definitely not lose another match. Based on our expertise we will have good results. Our goal remains the same, which is to qualify, and we have to translate that on the pitch. We have to work closely together and stay focused."

AGMK FC v Al Hilal SFC (KSA)
Venue: Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
Kick-off: 22:00 hours (UTC+3)

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