Posted on February 26, 2013

Qatar Stars League champions Lekhwiya will be missing Korean midfielder Nam Tae-hee when they kick off their AFC Champions League Group B campaign on Tuesday with a home match against qualifiers Al Shabab at the brand new Lekhwiya Club Stadium in Doha.

The Qatari side have been in good form in their league with just one defeat in their last 15 games but their preparations for the clash against the United Arab Emirates club, who emerged from a playoff against Iranian side Sabaye Qom earlier this month, have been hit by the enforced absence of Nam.

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The 21-year-old, who appeared in all six of Lekhwiya’s matches in the AFC Champions League last year has suffered a stomach infection and has returned home to Korea for treatment. However, coach Eric Gerets has also received some positive news on the injury front with Tunisian international midfielder Youssef Msakni and Senegalese forward Issiar Dia available again after recovering from their own injuries.

And the Belgian is confident that his side can improve on last year's debut when they failed to reach the Knockout Stage. “The AFC Champions League is totally different from our local league and our team must focus on all of the matches. Our first match tomorrow against Al Shabab will be difficult as it is the opening match for both teams,” he said.

Al Shabab arrived in Doha on Sunday after a 2-0 victory over Al Ahli in the UAE Pro League last Thursday. While the Dubai club were disappointing in last season’s tournament, managing only two points from six games, there is a sense of confidence after their dramatic victory over Sabaye Qom in Iran, where they won 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

“Our start in the AFC Champions League Group Stage will be very hard as we are playing our first match against Lekhwiya away,” said Al Shabab’s Brazilian coach Marcos Paqueta“Lekhwiya are a complete team and they have several impressive players. The match will be very hard for the two teams but we will try to take advantage of our good performances recently to get a positive result.”

The other Group A game on Tuesday will be played at the King Fahd International Stadium, where Saudi champions Al Shabab entertain another tournament newcomer, Qatari side El Jaish.

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