Al-Hilal's pedigree means nothing in Asian final: coach

Al-Hilal`s long history of success will mean nothing when they take on upstarts Western Sydney Wanderers in the Asian Champions League (ACL) final first leg on Saturday, coach Laurentiu Reghecampf said on Friday.

Reuters| Updated: Oct 24, 2014, 13:48 PM IST
Al-Hilal's pedigree means nothing in Asian final: coach

Sydney: Al-Hilal`s long history of success will mean nothing when they take on upstarts Western Sydney Wanderers in the Asian Champions League (ACL) final first leg on Saturday, coach Laurentiu Reghecampf said on Friday.

The Saudi Arabian club, founded in 1957, have won their domestic title a record 13 times and were twice continental champions in 1991 and 2000 prior to its re-branding as the ACL.

On Saturday they face Australian club Wanderers, who were founded two years ago and have reached the final in their maiden continental campaign.

"It`s the final and everything is possible," he told reporters on Friday.

"The two best teams get to the final, that`s why it will be 50-50.

"We are a very big team, one of the biggest teams in Asia but that is not enough to win one game.

"Tomorrow night and next week, history is not playing, we have to do it. I don`t think it`s important to Sydney what Al-Hilal has done before, I think we will have to play a very good game."

Reghecampf, who led Steaua Bucharest to successive Romanian titles before joining Al Hilal, has built one of the meanest defences in Asia since taking over in May and turning around the club`s Champions League campaign after a stuttering start.

It is his midfield that is giving him his biggest headache ahead of the match at Parramatta Stadium with a concern of the health of vice captain Saud Kariri, who sat out training with a throat infection on Thursday.

"Saud didn`t train yesterday but today he is much better, I hope to have him on the field tomorrow," Reghecampf said of the midfielder, who won the ACL twice with Al Ittihad.

"But if he`s not ready, we`ve got enough players with us and we can play without Saud."

The Romanian said he had high regard for the team unity Wanderers had shown in their improbable run to the final and said the Blue Wave would not be under-estimating their opponents.

Reghecampf said was hoping to nick a narrow win in front of a packed house of 21,000 on Saturday before taking the Australians back to King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh for the second leg next weekend.

"It`s important that we score tomorrow night, because in Riyadh we have a full stadium and a very nice atmosphere and our team play much better at home," he added.

"I hope we don`t concede any goals and score one, that would be wonderful."

One thing the 39-year-old was not concerned about was his players wilting in the hostile atmosphere created by the Wanderers` fans, who are famous in Australia for their passion.

"Have you heard about the fans from Al-Hilal?" he asked. "We play a lot of difficult games in front of 65,000 fans and they create a very nice atmosphere. 

"It`s a nice atmosphere here too, we know what we have to do in these situations."