Olaroiu hopes for clean sheet

Room for Improvement: Former Champions Kashima & Guangzhou must step up

Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu hopes to keep things tight and keep a clean sheet during Saturday's AFC Champions League final first leg against China's Guangzhou Evergrande.

Prior to this season's competition, the  2014 Arabian Gulf League champions failed to make it past the group stage in Asia's premier continental club competition, falling at the first hurdle in 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2014.

However, their form on the continent has improved dramatically under Romanian Olaroium, with victories over 2003 winners Al Ain, Iran's Naft Tehran and Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal during a seven-game unbeaten streak 

"We feel good because we have to play a game that everyone wants to play in. When you are young and start to play football, everyone dreams to be in the final of the Champions League or the World Cup or the Asian or European cup, and being in the final of the Champions League is the dream of everyone and you have to enjoy it," the 46-year-old Olaroiu is quoted as saying by the official AFC website.

"It is easier to play a final in one game, in two games it is more difficult as it looks like a qualification game and that is why we have the previous experience with the home games. The most important thing for me in this type of game is not to concede a goal at home; this will make a lot of complications.

"But in the same way, we are looking forward to winning the game and doing as much as we can to not concede too many."

Al Ahli's chances of lifting the trophy for the first time will largely depend on the goal-scoring prowess of in-form strike duo Ahmed Khalil and Brazilian Rodrigo Lima, but their opponents also boast an impressive attack, including this season's leading scorer Ricardo Goulart, Brazilian compatriot Elkeson and China's Gao Lin

Al Ahli captain Khalil is second on the leading scorers list behind Goulart with six goals while Lima has found the back of the net in each of his last four seasons.

"I have confidence in all my team and all my players, and also Guangzhou have good players and have three strikers with Gao Lin, Goulart and Elkeson and they are very good," added Olaroiu.

"It is important to play a good game and for everyone to enjoy and for everyone to look forward to the AFC Champions League final.

"We don't have any pressure; we are just enjoying being here. When we started our target was to pass the group for the first time in the history of the club,

"Then we fixed the target of getting past Al Ain and into the quarter-final, and then the semi-final, and now we are here and hope to win the trophy."

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