May 27, 2024
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AFC – QOM, Al Shabab Al Arabi booked a place in the Group Stages of the 2013 AFC Champions League on Saturday when the club from the United Arab Emirates emerged victorious in a penalty shootout over Iran’s Sabaye Qom at the Yadegar-e-Emam Stadium.

Esam bin Salmin’s equalizer in the final minute of normal time after Iman Razaghirad had given Saba the lead as early as the sixth minute sent the game into extra time and, with neither team able to score in the added period, Al Shabab Al Arabi progressed thanks to a 5-3 win in the shootout.

The club from Dubai will now play in Group B of the AFC Champions League, alongside Qatar’s Lekhwiya, Al Ettifaq of Saudi Arabia and Uzbek champions Pakhtakor.

“We deserved to qualify for the AFC Champions Leauge,” said Al Shabab Al Arabi coach Marcos Paqueta.

“Saba had the advantage of hosting the game but my players were not influenced by the atmosphere and the fans and instead concentrated on what I had instructed them to do.

“We were clever to get the best of our few scoring chances and we were very organized in our defensive strategy. We tried to counter attack whenever possible and during extra time we proved that our players were great physically.

“And, finally in the penalty shootout our keeper did a great job.”

Razaghirad opened the scoring for the hosts after only six minutes, the striker heading home an accurate cross from the right.

In the 17th minute Al Shabab threatened through Brazilian striker Ciel (Jociel Ferreira Da Silva), whose shot flew wide of the right post while Saba’s Akbar Sadeghibadie saw his powerful strike from the long range miss the target a minute before Milad Nouri failed to net from inside the box.

Saba could have doubled their advantage in the 36th minute via Milad Nori, but the lively forward was unfortunate that his free kick hit the bar and, with the rebound seconds later, he struck the left upright.

With barely seconds remaining in normal time, Al Shabab converted their only serious chance of the second half when Esam bin Salmin headed home to take the game into extra time.

Neither side threatened in the extra 30 minutes and, in the end, Al Shabab Al Arabi progressed thanks to a 5-3 win in the shoot-out following Abdolkarim Eslami’s miss to reach the Group Stages of the AFC Champions League for the second season in a row.

“We had control over the whole game and they only grabbed their sole chance and converted it into their equalizer,” said Saba Qom coach Samad Marfavi. “In extra time it was clear they were defending to let to the penalty shootout decide the winner.

“In the end they achieved what they had planned and they beat us on penalties.

We missed a good opportunity to add another spot to Iran’s other three spots. It was their lucky day and we couldn’t score due to our poor finishing up front.

“If our strikers had been more careful we would have won with a huge goal difference.”