Al-Hilal vs Navbahor Namangan
Al-Hilal’s AFC Champions League Group D campaign gets underway at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium against Navbahor Namangan.
Barring an unexpected 1-1 home draw against Al-Feiha, Al-Hilal’s bid to reclaim Saudi Pro League supremacy following Al-Ittihad’s triumph last term has been off to a flying start. Jorge Jesus’ men have won all five remaining league matches via a combined score of 19-5, including an overwhelming 6-1 home triumph over Al-Riyadh last time out. With ex-Fulham talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic leading the line, the Saudis have been scoring for fun lately, especially after the break, netting a combined seven second-half goals in their last two outings. Some late action could be on the cards, with Al-Hilal bagging at least one goal beyond the 70-minute mark on both occasions.
On the other hand, visiting Navbahor had to settle for a runner-up finish in the Uzbekistan Super League last term, with Pakhtakor beating them to the crown by a single-point margin. Their effort to do one better this term has been off to a dismal start, with Samvel Babayan’s side going winless in their opening two league games (D1, L1), both of which saw them draw a blank before halftime. On a more positive note, the visitors head into proceedings buzzing from a 2-0 Uzbekistan Cup victory over Termez Surkhon. Despite living up to their tag as pre-match favorites, Navbahor had to wait until the 67th minute to find a breakthrough, adding to their traditionally slow starts. One such could cost them dearly against a more heavily fancied Al-Hilal.