Kenya striker Michael Olunga produced a superb showing as Al Duhail SC started their 2021 AFC Champions League group stage campaign with a 2-0 win against Al Shorta of Iraq on Thursday night.
The Qatari giants went ahead through a Hassam Kadhim own goal nine minutes before half-time while man-of-the-match Edmilson Junior’s volley made the points safe in the 53rd minute at the King Abdullah Sports City.
Duhail started the game on a high note with Olunga coming close to breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute but his effort flew wide and five minutes later, Ali Karimi saw his header fizzle wide from close range after he latched onto Ismail Mohamed’s cross.
However, it was not long before Duhail scored the opening goal in the 36th minute, when Olunga and Karimi played a neat one-two, with Olunga’s shot ending up in the back of the net via the foot of Kadhim, who was credited with an own goal.
At first, the goal was credited to the Harambee Stars forward before it was chalked off for an own goal.
On resumption after the half-time break, Duhail continued to stretch their rivals and they scored the second goal in the 53rd minute when Almoez Ali’s shot was blocked but Edmilson reacted quickly to lash home a volley from just short of 15 yards.
The result put Al Duhail as the early leaders in Group C, with only the group winners and three best runners-up to advance to the knockout stage from the West Zone.
Subsequently, their coach Sabri Lamouchi described the opening match as a deserved victory.
“The team appeared with a good level and succeeded in achieving the required from it, and we could have scored more goals in the first half where we had more than one opportunity to score, but in the end, we succeeded in achieving the required,” Lamouchi told the club’s official website after the game.
“For us, it was very important to achieve victory in this match either in the technical staff or for the players because the good start in these championships gives the players the required morale to present more in the upcoming matches.
“I was not afraid from the match, but the match was not easy and we have to think throughout the match, and the players achieve the required from them which they succeeded in, and in the second half the players controlled the match and reached the second goal.”
Duhail will next face Esteghlal FC in their second group match on Wednesday, April 21.