Review&Preview: 2014 AFC Champions League – Semi-finals
WEST ASIA ZONE
AL-AIN FC (UAA) – AL-HILAL FC (KSA) 5%-95%
First Leg: Al-Hilal – Al-Sadd 3-0
61′, 64′ Al-Shamrani, Neves 70′.
We don’t really understand what happened to Al-Ain during the ten minutes from 60′ to 70′, when they conceded 3 goals so quickly, and probably lost any chance to reach the Final: the tie is almost surely over.
We are pleased to point out that the match was played in front of a very big crowd, that displayed a very nice choreo.
The most important footballers playing for Al-Ain are the South Korean International Lee Myung-Joo (midfielder), the Slovakian International Miroslav Stoch (former Chelsea FC, FC Twente, Fenerbache and PAOK winger), the Ghanaian International Asamoah Gyan (former Udinese, Modena, Rennes and Sunderland striker) and the Congolese Jirès Kembo Ekoko (former Stade Rennais striker).
The main Emirati Internationals are the defenders Fares Juma, Mohanad Salem and Mohamed Ahmad, the midfielders Omar Abdulrahman, Helal Saeed, Ali Al Wehaibi, and Sultan Al Ghafri, and the striker Mohamed Abdulrahman.
The key players in Al-Hilal FC are the Romanian International Mihai Pintilii (former Steaua Bucarest defender), the South Korean International Kwak Tae-Hwi, the Equatorian International Segundo Castillo (former Red Star Belgrade, Everton, Wolverhampton and Pachuca midfielder) and the Brazilians Digão (former Fluminense defender) and Thiago Neves (former Fluminense, Hamburger SV and Flamengo offensive midfielder).
Moreover there are few Saudi Arabian Internationals, such as the defender Sultan Al-Bishi and Abdullah Al-Zori, the midfielders Salem Al-Dawsari, Saud Kariri and Yasser Al-Shahrani, Mohammad Al-Shalhoub and the strikers Yousef Al-Salem, Nasser Al-Shamrani and Yasser Al-Qahtani.
The First Leg.
EAST ASIA ZONE
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS FC (AUS) – FC SEOUL (KOR) 45%-55%
First Leg: FC Seoul – Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0-0
Western Sydney Wanderers is probably the biggest ”surprise” among the Semifinalists, because it has gone further than Australian teams usually go, considering that in A-League there’s a salary cap, that can increase the competition inside the Championship but that can also limit the Australian sides in continental competitions.
The First Leg in South Korea ended 0-0, a quite positive result for FC Seoul (the runner-up of 2013 Edition), that is maybe a little bit stronger and that can qualify also with a draw; anyway WSWFC’s supporters are quite loud and could give the Australians more (vocal) support than FC Seoul has been given in the Korean Capital.
The key elements in FC Seoul squad, the runner-up of last Edition, are the former Colombian International Mauricio Molina (former sriker of Independiente Medellin, Morelia, San Lorenzo, Red Star Belgrade and Santos), the Brazilian Everton Santos (former PSG, Corinthians, Fluminense and Ponte Preta forward), the Spanish (Japanese naturalized) attacking midfielder Sergio Escudero and the fellow Spaniard Osmar Barba (former Racing Santander defender) and the South Korean International Cha Du-Ri (former Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz 05, Freiburg and Celtic FC full-back). Moreover there are few other South Korean Internationals, the defenders Kim Ju-young, Go Yo-han and the midfielders Yun Il-Lok and Koh Myong-Jin, and few former ones, such as the GK Kim Yong-dae, the defender Kim Jin-kyu (Captain), the full-backs Kim Chi-woo and Choi Hyo-jin.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC is the youngest team in A-League, but, despite being just at its second season, proved to be one of the most successfull franchises in the League, playing two Grand Final in two year (in 2012/13 they lost to Central Coast Mariners), and qualified for AFC Champions League 2013/14 Quarter-finals at its first experience in the continental Competition. The team, that wears a red and black orizontal striped jersey, proved to have, despite sharing the local fanbase with the “older” Sydney FC, a good success on the stands as well, because, with 14.860 spectators per game, has the fourth average attendance in the last A-League, and registered decent numbers (about 11.000 per game) during AFC Champions League games as well, a competition often “snobbed” by australian fans; moreover WSWFC fans are among the loudest in the Country.
The most famous and/or important players in the squad managed by the former Australian International, Anthony Popovic, are: Ante Covic (38, former PAOK FC, GNK Dinamo Zagreb, Hammarby IF nd Elfsborg IF goalkepeer), Matthew Spiranovic (25, Australian International, former 1.FC Nürnberg and Urawa Red Diamond right back), Michael Beauchamp (33, former Australian International, former 1.FC Nürnberg and Aalborg BK defender, he’s the Captain of the team), Brendan Hamill (21, promising central back with experience in South Korea), Mateo Poljak (24, former NK Lokomotiva Zagreb croatian midfielder), Brendon Santalab (31 a left winger who played in Belgium, Hungary and China), Romeo Castelen (former ADO, Feyenoord Hamburger SV, Volga NN and RKC Dutch winger, he was considered a big prospect when he was younger), Vitor Saba (former Flamengo, Vitòria and Brescia Brazilian offensive midfielder), Mark Bridge (28, striker) and Tomi Juric (22, Australian International, former NK Lokomotiva Zagreb and NK Inter Zapresic forward).
The First Leg.