Al-Hilal injury scare as Saudis finally front media

So they do speak. After five days of ducking the cameras and avoiding the media, Al Hilal have had no choice but to break their silence at the official pre-match press conference at Parramatta Stadium on Friday.

While they kept the huge media throng waiting 20 minutes as they were stuck in Sydney traffic, coach Laurentiu Reghecampf and player Abdulaziz Al Dawsari finally gave their thoughts about Saturday night’s AFC Champions League final against Western Sydney Wanderers FC.

The cloak and dagger approach from one of Asia’s biggest club’s has been surprising but underlines how desperate they are to land their third continental title in the club’s history.

“I think in the final it’s the best two teams, that’s why it’s 50/50 game,” Reghecampf told reporters.

“We are a very big teams, one of the biggest teams in Asia but that’s not enough to win one game

“We respect our opponent and I hope we’re going to make a very big game tomorrow night. We’re going to do everything for our fans. We are prepared to win the game and I hope we’re going to win this trophy.”

Al Hilal has had an injury scare this week, with skipper Saud Khariri forced to hospital on Thursday night with a throat infection.

“Yesterday he didn’t train but today he’s much better and I hope we’re going to have him on the field tomorrow,” Reghecampf said of his skipper.

“But also if he’s not playing we have enough players with us.”

The Al Hilal boss, in his first season with the club, says his side won’t be underestimating the Wanderers despite their slow start to the Hyundai A-League and the huge gulf in history between the sides.

Reghecampf admits he has been impressed by the Wanderers’ fairytale run to the final and believes their close-knit team spirit makes them a dangerous proposition. 
“I’ve see all their games, we have almost 20 games from Wanderers and they have a very good team,” he said.

“They are very well prepared in fitness. They play together, are a very strong team and a family.

“You see that every game and I think that’s the point in how this team is growing up. 

“They win against Gangzhou (Evergrande) and (FC) Seoul, who are very difficult teams to play against and I think they deserve to be in the final. But I hope they don’t win the final.”

The first leg is officially a sellout with just under 20,000 fans expected to cram into Parramatta Stadium to get behind the Wanderers.

The huge support of the Red and Black Bloc (RBB) has been a big factor behind the Wanderers success in the ACL but Reghecampf doesn’t expect the huge noise and hostile atmosphere to play a part in deciding the outcome.

“Have you heard about the fans from Al Hilal?” he said with a smile.

“It’s not the same thing. We respect all our opponents but you can’t ask us…we play all the difficult games with 65,000 fans and they make a very nice atmosphere.

“We’ve seen the games and it’s a very nice atmosphere here too. It’s a small stadium close to the field, but we know how we have to do in this situation.”