03 may 10:51
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ACL MD6 - GROUP C: PAKHTAKOR V AL JAZIRA PREVIEW

Tashkent: Midfield pair Azimjon Akhmedov and Javokhir Sokhibov are suspended for Pakhtakor as the Uzbekistan champions face a must-win tie against Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates as they aim to qualify for the Round of 16 for the first time since 2010.

The Uzbek League winners go into the encounter at Pakhtakor Stadium in third place in the group on seven points from five games – one behind Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal and five adrift of group winners Tractorsazi Tabriz of Iran – knowing that anything but a victory will see them eliminated from the continental competition.

But as well as needing maximum points on Tuesday against already eliminated Al Jazira, Numon Khasanov's side will at the same time need Al Hilal to drop points against Tractorsazi in Tuesday's other Group C game.

"Tomorrow`s match is very important for us, only victory will do. Akhmedov and Sokhibov (pictured left) can`t play due to yellow cards and it makes a little problem for us. But we have to solve these problems if we want to continue our way in the competition," said Pakhtakor coach Khasanov.

"I watched the last UAE league game of Al Jazira and they showed a very attacking performance. Al Jazira have fast players in attack which we'll have to watch out for.

"While I know Al Jazira also have problems with their squad, it doesn`t mean that the match will be easy for us. They can play without any pressure. Our opponents have good players who can come in to replace their suspended and injured players."

For Al Jazira, 2015 AFC Asian Cup top scorer Ali Mabkhout will miss out through suspension which further hampers the Emirati side who have yet to record a win in this year's continental campaign, tallying just a single point from their five group stage games.

And a fortnight ago, Tuesday's hosts inflicted a 3-1 defeat on Henk Ten Cate's side in Abu Dhabi with Uzbekistan forward Igor Sergeev netting a brace.

"This match is more important for Pakhtakor, because they have a chance to qualify to the next stage. But we will try to show good football and to take revenge for our loss in Abu Dhabi," said Al Jazira coach Ten Cate, whose side did win their latest domestic fixture on Thursday with a 4-2 away win over Emirates Club.

"Pakhtakor is under pressure in this game as they need to win. I studied all the matches of Pakhtakor in the AFC Champions League and I feel there are no big difference between the two teams.

"We have had problems in our squad, though, and we faced those during our games in the AFC Champions League. This is why we gave chances to young players, so they could have experience in this tournament. It will help us to build a new team next season.”

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