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Al Hilal v Al Ahli: Olaroiu ready for reunion in AFC Champions League semi-final

Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu is eyeing victory over his former club Al Hilal in the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League.

Olaroiu and Co. will make the trip to Saudi giants Al Hilal for Tuesday’s opening leg at King Fahd International Stadium.

The Romanian boss, who led Saudi Arabia at the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia, coached Al Ahli’s opponents prior to moving to the United Arab Emirates in 2013, leading Al Hilal to the Saudi league title seven years ago.

Olaroiu is now pitting the downfall of the 2014 runners-up, starting in Riyadh.

“I know them, they know me. We have a special relationship, but the game is the game,” said Olaroiu via AFC.com.

“They have the pressure of the public and they have a lot of supporters. When you play in the league or the Champions League, psychology is important and, it is just as important as the physical side and it’s part of our job and we have to take this into consideration.

“At this point in the competition nobody is superior to anybody. Whoever performs better in the match will qualify for the final.”

First-leg hosts Al Hilal, who have only lost five of their past 27 home fixtures in all competitions – saw off Lekhwiya 6-3 on aggregate to reach the semis almost a fortnight ago.

Al Ahli, meanwhile, reached the final four of the Asian tournament for the first time after accounting for Naft Tehran 3-1 on aggregate.

Former Benfica striker Lima was instrumental in the quarters with two goals and Olaroiu is counting on the Brazilian to help lead Al Ahli into the final.

Olaroiu added: “He’s a very clever player and has also increased the level of Ahmed Khalil.

“We talked to him about doing something and raising the level of Khalil in a few things, to let him do what he does better.

“He’s the striker that we need and I’m very happy for both of them.”

Sun 27 Sep, 2015
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