AGMK FC, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai determined to get back on course in AFC Champions League

With only a point each to their name, both can't afford to drop more in their Matchday Three encounter at the King Fahd International Stadium if they want to keep pace with Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal SFC and Tajikistan's FC Istiklol.

AGMK showed promise in their group opener against Al Hilal, holding the 2019 champions to a 2-2 draw. They were equally spirited against Central Asian neighbours Istiklol, but their second half revival came too late as they suffered a 3-2 defeat.

The Uzbek Super League club, who had fought their way through the playoff stage, have shown that they have no issues converting their chances, with Zafar Polvonov the joint top scorer in the tournament so far with three goals.

Head coach Mirdjalal Kasimov will be counting on the 36-year-old Polvonov to lead from the front against Shabab Al Ahli.

"Tomorrow is yet another important match for us," said Kasimov. "We will be playing two consecutive matches against Shabab Al Ahli, and these will be decisive for both teams, so we will need to gain points.

"We’ve learned from our mistakes in the previous matches, and we are ready.

"All the teams in the group are strong teams, so we will need to do our best and get the best results in the upcoming matches. I have told this to our players, and we are just waiting for tomorrow’s match."

Mirdjalal Kasimov - AGMK FC head coach -AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2021 - Pre-Match Press Conference

Shabab Al Ahli are rooted to the bottom of the group, having first been held to a goalless draw by tournament debutants Istiklol, before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat to Al Hilal.

Shabab Al Ahli are no strangers to the tournament, having made it past the group stage in their three most recent appearances but must return to winning ways if they are to keep that record alive.

The UAE side head into the match not having scored as yet in the 2021 AFC Champions League but the records indicate that the 2015 runners-ups have not failed to hit the back of the net in three consecutive matches, and head coach Mahdi Ali will urge his players to be more clinical in the final third.

"This match is very important for us, especially after we lost to Al Hilal, and it will be decisive for us to stay in contention to qualify," Ali said. "Both teams has one point from the first match, and now we will meet twice, of course we want to win and avoid losing more points, to avoid elimination.

"We will deal with the match in a cautious and reasonable way, as we want to get the result we want against a good team."

Mahdi Ali - AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2021 - Pre-Match Press Conference

Ali also hinted on the possible return of Jaloliddin Masharipov to the ranks, but admitted that his side must do better than their last match.

"Masharipov is ready and fit to play in this match, having missed the first two matches because of suspension," said Ali.

"In the last match our performance dropped in the second half, this wasn't because of the lack of fitness, but it's because we made many passing mistakes and we lost the ball quickly, which made things hard for us."

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