Jeddah derby kicks off semi-finals

Two-time winners Al Ittihad will be without the services of defender Redha Takar for Monday's AFC Champions League semi-final first leg against Al Ahli.

Mohammed Noor Al Ittihad

Former Saudi Arabia international Takar has again been a central figure as 2004 and 2005 champions Al Ittihad have advanced to the semi-finals for the fifth time in nine seasons by comfortably winning their group before seeing off Iran's Piroozi Athletic and China's Guangzhou Evergrande in the knockout stage.

But after the 36-year-old picked up yellow cards in both legs of the thrilling quarter-final victory over Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou, Takar will be unavailable to Spanish coach Raul Caneda for Monday's first leg against Al Ittihad's Jeddah neighbours at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium.

Since losing the second leg 2-1 against Guangzhou at the start of October to advance 5-4 on aggregate, Al Ittihad have only been in domestic action once as Caneda's side shared a 3-3 draw with Al Taawoun prior to the international break.

Brazilian midfielder Diego de Souza, Fahad Al Muwallad and Mohammed Noor scored as fourth place Al Ittihad extended their unbeaten start to the Saudi League season.

Al Ahli, meanwhile, have also only had one domestic outing since their 4-1 win over Iran champions Sepahan in the second leg of their quarter-final secured a maiden appearance in the semi-finals, although Karel Jarolim's side lost 2-0 to Narjan to slip down to seventh place.

Having scored twice in the second leg against Sepahan, Al Ahli striker Amad Al Hosni helped Oman beat Jordan 2-1 in Tuesday's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier after the double against Sepahan took his AFC Champions League tally for the season to four.

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