Al Hilal confident of AFC Champions League "remontada" in Riyadh

With a place in yet another AFC Champions League final the reward, Jorge Jesus is convinced his Al Hilal side can turnaround their highly anticipated, last-four clash with UAE side Al Ain in Riyadh on Tuesday night.

The Roshn Saudi League leaders, 12 points clear at the top of the domestic standings, have continental success on their minds at present in the capital.

Al Hilal enter the semi-final second leg two goals down from the first encounter in the Emirates last week, but Salem Al Dawsari’s late goal sets up perfectly the tie for a thrilling conclusion at Kingdom Arena.


The RSL frontrunners, four-time Asian champions and runners-up last year, may be 4-2 down going into the return match, but Jesus has seen enough in his team to remain confident the “remontada” is very much on. 

“It’s the first time that we play a game in the knockout stage with a disadvantage,” the Portuguese coach said. “But, at the same time, we believe in the values that we have in our players and in the presence and support of the fans.

“We trust we can make the comeback. That’s the will of all the players, the fans and Al Hilal club itself, so we believe that we can make a good comeback and qualify for the final.

“We believe in what we will be able to do, mainly because of how I see the confidence level in the players, in the group, and that they have the capacity in which they all believe they can make a good comeback. First of all, to recover the two goals and then to qualify for the final.”


Al Hilal, unbeaten this season in the RSL, have not only a partisan home support to help on Tuesday, but a perfect record at the Kingdom Arena. Since debuting at the recently built venue in late January, they have won all nine matches there, including the past four of their record, 20-match winning run in the RSL.

“Yes, about statistics, it’s clean white, all victories,” Jesus said. “But [the Al Ain] game is different. It’s a special match. It’s very important for the players, for the club and for the fans. It’s one game that’s going to take us to the final, so we will do everything that is possible so we can recover the two goals we are behind and then also arrive to the final.”

Al Hilal midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic shares his manager’s belief that a comeback is well within the Riyadh club's grasp. He has seen as much in the work done on the training pitch between the first leg and Tuesday’s crucial meet.

“We know that [the second leg] will be a difficult game for us,” said the Serbian international, who has an impressive 10 goals and eight assists in his debut season in the RSL. “But we prepared well. We watched the game we played in Al Ain, so we saw our mistakes. We did three or four good trainings here and the team is good.

“So I believe tomorrow we will do a good game, and deliver everything that we prepared. I’m happy because I can see in my teammates’ eyes that they want to do a good game, to make a huge win, and go to the final.”