Al Gharafa reach AFC Champions League


Al Gharafa qualified for the group stage of AFC Champions League with a 2-1 victory on home soil over Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan in play-off on Tuesday.

Al Gharafa are thus clubbed in Group A along with the UAE’s Al Jazira, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli and Iran’s Tractorsasi.

The hosts went ahead in the 20th minute through new recruit and Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder who converted the penalty awarded after Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi was fouled inside the box by Pakhtakor defender Marko Simic.

The Cheetahs doubled the lead after eight minutes when medio Diogo Amado’s shot from the edge of the box slipped through the hands of Aleksandr Lobanov.

Pakhtakor battled hard for a way back into the game, but despite Jasurbek Khakimov’s stoppage-time goal, Al Gharafa hung on to clinch the win.

Al Gharafa’s first match in the tournament proper will be against Al Jazira in Abu Dhabi on February 12.

Qatar’s Al Duhail, Al Sadd and Al Rayyan had qualified directly for the group stage.