Last year’s AFC Champions League runners-up Al Ahli will face the competition’s leading goal-scorer this season in the round-of-16.
Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli, who were defeated 3-0 by Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea in the 2012 AFC Champions League (ACL) final, are off to Qatar to play El Jaish on Tuesday and must be wary of the hosts’ Brazilian attacking midfielder Wagner Ribeiro.
Ribeiro scored seven goals for El Jaish in the group stages of this season’s ACL to sit top of the goal-scoring charts, while he has 14 for the season across all competitions.
El Jaish finished second in Group A behind Al Ahli’s domestic rivals Al Shabab, scoring 14 goals across six matches.
But Al Ahli should back themselves against the Qataris as the two-time ACL runners-up topped Group C undefeated, having scored 16 goals – more than any other team across the eight groups.
Omani striker Emad Al Hosni notched four goals for Al Ahli in the group stage to share third position in the scorers’ chart with Al Gharafa’s Djibril Cisse and Sebastian Quintana of Lekhwiya.
Guangzhou Evergrande’s Muriqui is one goal adrift of Ribeiro with six goals.
Al Ahli, who also lost the ACL final in 1986 when it was called the Asian Club Championship, will be looking to finally go all the way in 2013 as they are one of just two survivors from last season’s semi-finals.
Ulsan and Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad failed to qualify for the 2013 ACL but Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor remain in the competition after claiming top spot in Group G.
Bunyodkor won just two games in the group stage but remained undefeated with four draws to wrap up first position ahead of Beijing Guoan and the Uzbek club will travel to Thailand on Tuesday to play Buriram United.
In other first legs on Tuesday, Beijing host FC Seoul and Al Shabab will join Al Ahli in Qatar to play Al Gharafa.
On Wednesday, A-League champions Central Coast Mariners will welcome Evergrande to Gosford, while South Korea’s Jeonbuk Motors host Kashiwa Reysol of Japan, Esteghlal of Iran travel to the United Arab Emirates to face Al Shabab and Qatar’s Lekhwiya must take on Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia.
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