Asian Football - Saudi stadium switch leaves Al Ain rerouting

Emirati side Al Ain were given additional travel issues to overcome prior to their AFC Champions League quarter-final against Al Ittihad after their Saudi Arabian opponents received last-minute permission to switch the venue.

Reuters
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Al-Ittihad defender Ahmed Assiri (R) fights for the ball with Al-Ain's forward Asamoah Gyan (L) (AFP)

The second leg was scheduled to take place at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah but Ittihad claimed the venue was not ready to host Tuesday's match and the Asian Football Confederation told Reuters on Monday they had approved a switch to the King Abdulaziz Sport City on the outskirts of Mecca.

Al Ain, who won the first leg 2-0 last week, were about to fly to Saudi when they found out about the change of venue, local media reported on Sunday.

The new venue also creates additional travel issues as Mecca is off limits to non-Muslims meaning a detour around the holy city to the venue for Tuesday's match for the Emirati squad.

The stadium will also be empty after the AFC punished twice champions Ittihad following unruly fan behaviour in the last 16 win over compatriots Al Shabab.

Al Ain midfielder Mohammed Fawzi might be another no show at the King Abdulaziz Sport City after he picked up an ankle injury in the 2003 champions' first leg win.

The winners of the tie will take on the victors of the other West Asian quarter final where Saudi outfit Al Hilal take a 1-0 first leg advantage to Qatar to face 2011 champions Al Sadd.

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