Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu believes his side has “nothing to lose” in Tuesday’s AFC Champions League semi-final against Al Hilal at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh.
The United Arab Emirates club have never reached this stage of the competition before, while their Saudi Arabian hosts have won the tournament twice previously and went all the way to the final last season before losing to Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers.
Olaroiu told the Asian Football Confederation that his side had already surpassed expectations and were under no pressure as a result.
“We are happy to reach this stage and we have nothing to lose as we are playing against a strong team,” Olaroiu said.
“We have no pressure at all as we are playing against a team who have a good record in the competition.
“Al Hilal are favourites as they have reached this stage several times before while this is the first time that we have reached the semi-finals.”
Olaroiu's charges reached the penultimate stage of the competition after 1-0 and 2-1 wins over Iran’s Naft Tehran secured a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Having coached Al Hilal from 2007 to 2009, the Romanian knows the quality the men from the Saudi capital have in their ranks.
However, he says Al Ahli are not overawed and is confident his players can upset the favourites.
“We will try our best to play with good balance regardless of the defensive or offensive performance of the team,” he said.
”We have built our plans based on the levels of our opponents whom we know very well. There is nothing impossible in football despite the fact that Al Hilal are better than us and they are the favourites.”