By Sports Reporter/Doha
Baghdad Bounedjah was relieved that missed chances did not come back to haunt Al Sadd after the AFC Champions League Round of 16 win over Al Ahli on Monday.
Bounedjah, the leading scorer in the tournament, was again the man of the hour for Al Sadd in their Round of 16 second leg against Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli. The 26-year-old netted his eighth and ninth goals of the 2018 AFC Champions League to ensure a 2-2 draw on the night and a 4-3 aggregate win for Al Sadd.
The victory in Jeddah means the Qataris return to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2014, another milestone in what has been a hugely successful continental campaign thus far for Bounedjah.
“I am obviously delighted we reached the quarter-finals and that my two goals could help the team. To be honest, I believe we deserved to qualify for the last eight. I’d like to thank all my teammates for their efforts,” said Bounedjah.
“After we ended the QSL season without any silverware, I am happy that, instead, this win can be our gift back to all the Al Sadd fans,” the Algerian added.
However, Bounedjah did admit that there was a degree of relief mixed with the joy of the last eight-place. A dominant performance from Al Sadd did not disguise the fact that, with the scoreline concerned, their victory was only by a slim margin.
“We had numerous chances, especially in the second half, and we missed some good opportunities,” added Bounedjah, who himself saw a penalty kick blocked by Ahli goalkeeper Mohammed al-Owais, before he was able to convert the rebound.
“At the end of the day, though, we were able to score the two goals that mattered and we qualified for the quarter-finals. That’s all that matters. We consider this qualification a gift for the Al Sadd fans after ending the season without a title,” the striker added.
Meanwhile, Al Sadd head coach Jesualdo Ferreira praised the efforts of his players. Ferreira said: “We played a great game. I was hoping for the win but I will take this draw, which has taken us to the quarter-finals of the championship.”
Asked if Al Sadd were lucky to go through, considering Al Ahli missed key players, Ferreira said: “This kind of talk is unacceptable because we are missing players too. We have had injured players too; we have missed key players just like Al Ahli and this is how football is. Maybe, even if Al Ahli had played with a full-strength team, they may have not been able to win. End of the day, we were better and we deserve to go through.”
The Portuguese added: “We are very happy with the team’s achievement. I want to thank all the players for the efforts they put in. Congratulations to all of them. We hope fortune will favour us and we can continue on our road of success in Asia.”
Al Sadd will now await the draw for the quarter-final round next week to know their next opponents. The opening leg of the quarter-finals will be played on August 27 and 28 with the concluding ties scheduled for September 17 and 18.
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