Michael Olunga set for dead rubber Asian Champions League clash with Tajikistan champions

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STARS ABROAD Michael Olunga set for dead rubber Asian Champions League clash with Tajikistan champions

Joel Omotto 09:00 - 27.11.2023

Michael Olunga will seek to increase his tally in the Asian Champions League as Al Duhail face FC Istiklol from Tajikistan with their chances of advancing from their group very slim

Harambee Stars captain Michael Olunga will seek to add onto his Asian Champions League tally when Al Duhail take on Tajikistan champions FC Istiklol on Monday.

Al Duhail, last season’s semi-finalists, appear to have already kissed the competition goodbye after managing just one point from four group games this season and will be playing for pride in Doha on Monday.

The Qatar champions have had a poor run in the competition, starting with a goalless draw against FC Istiklol, before a 1-0 loss to Persepolis of Iran and followed it up with a 4-3 defeat to Al-Nassr of Saudi Arabia and a 3-2 loss to the same opponents.

Al Duhail’s bright spot, however, has been Kenyan striker Olunga who scored and created another goal against Cristiano Ronaldo-led Al-Nassr and with Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho among those missing through injury, the former Gor Mahia forward will take centre stage.

“We are entering an important match in the AFC Champions League, despite the fact that we are aware that our chances of advancing to the next round were very slim, we must respect this tournament because it is very important,” said Al Duhail coach Christophe Galtier.

“For three weeks, the team has been playing without the services of a number of players due to their international participation, and after this match, we will have important matches in the domestic league, and our preparation for this match was very serious and we are working to achieve victory and come out with a positive result, which is important for us.”

Galtier wants his team to use the match as a preparation for their next league clash against Umm Salal on Friday which he considers more important.

“This match will give us the motivation to develop and is considered a high-level match, which will make us strive to win it,” added the former Paris Saint-Germain coach.

“After our matches versus Al-Nassr, and we were scoring goals, we must continue to work and achieve victory. We will focus on developing the level and achieving positive results, and I am confident that the team will enter the match with focus and seriousness, this match will be preparation for our next matches.”

Apart from Coutinho, Al Duhail will also be without French midfielder Ibrahima Diallo, Belgian winger Edmilson Junior, Brazil-born Qatari defender Luiz Martin and his compatriot midfielder Karim Boudiaf.

Al-Nassr lead Group E with the maximum 12 points with Persepolis second on seven, while FC Istiklol have two. With two matches to go, the route out of the group appears impossible for bottom-placed Al Duhail who have one point.

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