With Oman international striker Amad Al Hosni returning an impressive average of a goal every two games since joining Al Ahli, it is no surprise the Jeddah side have enjoyed a run which is on the verge of culminating with AFC Champions League success at the weekend.
Since Al Hosni returned to Saudi Arabia at the start of the 2010/11 season following spells in Qatar and Belgium, Al Ahli have won the King Cup twice and finished second in the Saudi League last season before qualifying for Saturday’s AFC Champions League final against Korea Republic’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Having made a modest start to his Al Ahli career with nine goals in 24 appearances during his first season back in Saudi Arabia after initially joining Al Riyadh in 2004 – after finishing as top scorer for Oman at that year’s Gulf Cup – Al Hosni netted 15 goals in just 22 outings last season as Al Ahli finished second behind Al Shabab in the Saudi League.
“Al Ahli is a big team in Saudi Arabia and they have a big fan base and this was one of the main reasons that motivated me to sign for the club,” said the 28-year-old.
“Al Ahli are a successful team and is considered one of the best teams in Saudi Arabia and in the region. I will always give my best to the team and I hope that I can help win titles and lead them to victory.
“The fans of Al Ahli are some of the best fans in Saudi Arabia and they play an important role in motivating the players.”
Al Hosni was also on target twice in four appearances as Al Ahli qualified for the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League, which included a crucial strike in the thrilling victory over Al Jazira in the Round of 16, before netting two goals in the quarter-final second leg win over Iran champions Sepahan.
And while he was unable to add to his continental tally in the semi-final win over local rivals Al Ittihad, which set-up Al Ahli’s AFC Champions League final showdown with Ulsan, that failure has only further fuelled his determination to land the continental club title having won the 2009 Gulf Cup with Oman.
“I’m satisfied with my performance so far in the AFC Champions League and mainly in the semi-final against Al Ittihad. Despite the fact that I didn’t score, I followed the tactics to achieve our goals,” added Al Hosni.
“The match was full of tension and this is normal because of the pressure of qualifying for the final, especially after we lost the first leg. We looked to score a goal in the first half and we managed to do so before adding a second goal in the second period.
“The coach talked to me personally at half-time and asked me to follow certain tactics and this is what I did.
“Our focus is now on the match against Ulsan and I promise the Al Ahli fans that we will have a good performance in the final and win the title.”
While Al Hosni has made a more than substantial contribution to Al Ahli’s recent success, Brazilian striker Victor Simoes is the team’s top scorer in the AFC Champions League this season with seven goals after netting the winner against Al Ittihad as Al Ahli prevailed 2-1 on aggregate having lost the first leg by a single goal.
“Victor Simoes is an impressive player,” said Al Hosni about the Brazilian, who claimed 21 goals in 26 appearances for Al Ahli in the Saudi League last season.
“We have been playing together for some time now and we have great chemistry together with the team. I hope that we can continue to play well for the benefit of the team.”
And with Simoes having scored an impressive 39 goals in 49 appearances for Al Ahli in the Saudi League over the previous three seasons after joining at the end of the 2009/10 campaign, AFC Champions League final opponents Ulsan will certainly have their work cut out to control Al Ahli’s dangerous forward combination.
Both sides have qualified for the final of the revamped continental competition for the first time, although Al Ahli did reach the final of the Asian Club Championship – which became the AFC Champions League 10 years ago – in 1985/6 only to lose to Korea’s Daewoo Royals.
Ulsan, meanwhile, are out to return the trophy to Korean hands for the third time in four years having become the fourth consecutive K-League side to reach the AFC Champions League final.