Saudi Professional League runners-up Al Hilal are close to securing a permanent €8.3 million deal for loan star Andre Carrillo, according to reports.
Carrillo, 28, notched six assists and three goals in 21 top-flight appearances upon arrival from Portugal’s Benfica. The Crescent have been locked in negotiations since to secure the ex-Watford loanee’s full-time signature and a breakthrough has been made.
A Bola stated that a fee has been agreed for 70 per cent of the Peru winger’s rights and president Fahad bin Nafil Alotaibi is in Lisbon tying up the final details. Hilal had pressed for another temporary arrangement, but this was blocked.
Riyadh rivals and reigning SPL champions Al Nassr had also been linked with him.
A $2.8m transfer was secured earlier this month by Hilal for FC Tokyo centre-back Jang Hyun-soo. The ex-South Korea international should replace Australia’s Milos Degenek as the Asian-designated player in the seven-person foreign quota for 2019/20.
Elsewhere, “large” financial demands from fit-again UAE superstar Omar Abdulrahman have caused talks about a new contract to be shelved.
Abdulrahman, 27, was expected to re-sign for the Crescent after fitness tests in Dubai last week proved his complete recovery from October’s serious knee injury. A statement from the club, however, detail exorbitant requests from the playmaker’s camp and a failure to respond to a 24-hour deadline.
This breakdown ensured discussions were hastily broken off with Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club about the sale of Brazilian midfielder Carlos Eduardo.
Zoran Mamic bemoaned a lack of killer instinct that denied Al Ain the chance at an appearance in consecutive AFC Champions League finals.
The Boss were dumped out of the competition following a 3-0 second-leg rout in Riyadh by Al Hilal – although Mamic felt his side dominated the first half but were undone by wasted chances, while two rapid fire goals from the hosts just before the interval left them with a mountainous task.
“My team played the best football and dominated most of the game,” said the Croat, who saw defenders Tsukusa Shiotani and Mohamed Ahmed both waste good opportunities to open the scoring and silence the King Fahd International Stadium crowd.
“The team could not translate the opportunities they had into goals and if you cannot do that at this stage of the competition, then certainly you will not qualify for the semi-finals.”
Failure to strike an early blow and gain a precious away goal would prove catastrophic for the visiting team when lethal Brazilian playmaker Carlos Eduardo headed and volleyed in from Nicolas Milesi free-kicks within four minutes at the end of the first half.
Al Ain threw caution to the wind after the break and former Porto schemer Eduardo made sealed the Crescent’s passage into the last four by completing his hat-trick 16 minutes from time.
Al Ain were shorn of experienced UAE centre-back Mohanad Salem – sent off in the first leg in the Garden City three weeks ago, as well as fellow suspended defender Khaled Abdulrahman – but Mamic did not see their absences as significant factors.
“I do not think the absences were the cause of the loss, because the opposing team also has absences in their ranks,” said Mamic of Hilal, who were missing Saudi Arabia international Salman Al Faraj.
“The loss is clear and lies in not exploiting the chances that we had to score, in addition to our lack of focus in the second half.
“We did not show the required level in the second half of the game and did not succeed in the implementation of our duties.
“We lacked focus. Certainly, in the second half, we had no choice but to adopt an offensive style and we had to leave spaces in the field. This helped Hilal.”
The same scoreline at home in 2014’s semi-finals helped Hilal into the ACL final that year and coach Ramon Diaz revealed he had every confidence his side would get the job done at home.
“Al Hilal showed great desire to qualify and the team spirit in the game was high,” said the Argentine.
“My team was able to overcome all the circumstances and absences and I do not forget the important role played by the crowd in the match, as everyone contributed to achieve this strong result.”
Although former Paraguay coach Diaz hopes he can deliver his side into another final, he was hoping compatriots Al Ahli Jeddah could overcome Iran’s Persepolis in the other west Asia semi-final last night in order to ensure a Saudi team is guaranteed a final berth.
“I certainly hope to meet a Saudi team so that the Kingdom will have a seat in the Champions League final, so I hope Saudi Arabia qualify in the next phase of the competition,” he added.
Zoran Mamic has called on Al Ain to show their fighting spirit as they prepare to enter the lion’s den of Al Hilal’s King Fahd International Stadium looking for the result that will earn them an AFC Champions League semi-final berth.
The scores are evenly poised between two of Asia’s club heavyweights after a 0-0 draw at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium three weeks ago. It was advantage Al Ain after the game after the Boss had played for most of the second half down to 10 men following centre-back Mohanad Salem’s foolish sending-off.
Now Mamic’s men have to negotiate the cauldron-like atmosphere of Hilal’s stronghold in Riyadh – a stadium that holds an intimidating 68,752 fans.
“The game is one of the strongest football matches that Al Ain will have faced in recent years, especially since it combines two big teams,” said the Croat.
“We are required to provide a strong performance and show the spirit of fighting while also displaying high concentration and keeping possession of the ball and not giving any cheap opportunities to the opponents.
“Our goal in the last game was to win but it is not easy to get a positive result, especially after the red card. We will enter the second half of the tie and look forward to achieving a strong result that ensures our qualification for the semi-finals.”
With Salem suspended, fellow UAE defender Ismail Ahmed will come into the centre of defence. The veteran came on after Salem’s dismissal in the first leg, although he probably featured ahead of schedule following knee surgery in the summer.
Hilal coach Ramon Diaz, meanwhile, will be without midfield dynamo Salman Al Faraj, but is hoping the King Fahd International Stadium crowd will be in fine voice to provide a hostile atmosphere.
“We are fully ready for (the) match despite missing some players but we worked very well and have many solutions including the most important solution which is the Al Hilal fans,” the Argentine said.
Diaz began his press conference by praising the Saudi national team after their 1-0 victory the previous week against Japan, which earned them qualification to next year’s World Cup in Russia.
He added: “It will mean the participation of many players of Al Hilal, but the players have professional and good mentalities to forget the celebrations after this achievement and concentrate on the Asian competition with the club.”