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Spanish legend Xavi moving closer to history and Asian title

Press Trust of India  |  Madrid 

Spanish legend Hernandez can take a significant step on Monday towards becoming the to win both the and its Asian equivalent.

After four continental titles with Barcelona, the has one foot in the semifinal of the Asian with Al Sadd, the club he joined in 2015. The Qatari powerhouse won its quarterfinal first leg at the Iranian home of Esteghlal 3-1 in August and is ready for the return match in

"I think we can compete with the rest of the teams in for the AFC title." told the Asian Confederation's website.

"We now have a very good team. This season, we signed good players." Al Sadd, champion in 2011, did the hard work in the first leg at Tehran's famous and just needs to avoid defeat at home to progress.

"I think we did well but there's one more game," said winner.

"It could be just 90 minutes or it could even go to extra time. We don't know; in football, we never know."

Should Al Sadd progress to the last four, it could face Persepolis, Esteghlal's rival, in the same that enjoyed so much in August.

"It was an amazing atmosphere, one of the best that I have seen in my career," Xavi said.

"All the spectators were incredible. It was a great place to play in. I was really enjoying the experience; it's something I really liked."

Another former star of European soccer will also be hoping to make the last four but and have their work cut out. The Chinese team lost its first leg to Kashima Antlers of 2-0.

Tianjin, who arrived in a day late with heavy traffic enroute to leading to a missed flight, is struggling in the league with just one win in the last eight games, a run that has put pressure on

To make matters worse, the club lost star to Borussia Dortmund in August after the German club triggered the international's release clause. French striker is currently in a contract dispute with the club and has not played for over a month.

Pato missed Tianjin's 1-0 loss on Friday to Dalian Yifang with a but should be fit to play on Wednesday.

"We know what we have to do against Kashima," Sousa said.

"We will fight until the end and in football, anything can happen."

A tough task for the Chinese team has been made even harder as the port city club has been forced to relocate the tie around 1,205 miles (1,940 km) south to due to the fact that Tianjin starts hosting the on the same day.

According to Chinese media, 5,000 tickets will be given to local fans free of charge to watch the game.

The other East Asian clash, the tournament is divided into two geographic zones until the final, is an all-Korean affair. Jeonbuk Motors, champion in 2006 and 2016, needs to come back from a 3-0 first leg loss at home to Suwon Bluewings.

Two goals from did the damage with the Montenegrin striker moving onto 34 goals in the tournament, only of Jeonbuk has scored more with 36.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, September 16 2018. 09:35 IST