Last year’s semifinalists Al Duhail were held to a goalless draw by Istiklol of Tajikistan in their Group E opener of 2023-2024 AFC Champions League at the Central Republican Stadium on Tuesday.
It was a story of hits and misses and both sides had many exciting moments in front of a capacity crowd, but they failed to find the target till the very end.
Al Duhail, the more forceful side, were attacking from the word go and in the very 12th minute Almoez Ali found himself in front of the goal, but his attempt was foiled by Istiklol’s Cedric Gogoua, who cleared the ball away.
In the 25th minute, Senin Sebai’s (Istiklol) left-footed shot from outside the box missed the target to the right.
Al Duhail retaliated a minute later and this time Almoez’s shot, off a Mohammed Muntari pass, from the left side of the box missed to the right.
In the 33rd minute, Al Duhail’s Assim Madibo was in the range and he fired from outside the box, but the kick was high and wide to the right.
In the 40th minute, Almoez tried a through ball, but Sultan Al Breik was declared offside.
The tussle continued in the second half, but both sides lacked in their finishing.
A high point was in the 73rd minute when Al Duhail's Al Breik latched on to a chance following a goalmouth melee, but his deflected shot went on to hit the top left goal post and fly away.
The Red Knights tried harder towards the end, but the much-needed goal remained elusive.
There were many attempts at the goal, but the ball went either high or wide of the target.
Iran’s Persepolis and Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr are the other teams in Group E.