| Al-Sadd's Leandro Da Silva celebrates his goal which saw the Qatari team safely qualify to the ACL [AFP]
Indian football champions Dempo have failed to qualify for the Asian Champions League for the second time, losing to Qatar’s top club side Al Sadd at the Sheik Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Saturday.
The Dempo SC coach Armando Colaco had been hopeful ahead of Saturday’s qualifier, but accepted that again playing away from home was likely to be a disadvantage for his Indian team.
In the day’s other result, UAE’s Al Ain ended a run of disappointing results by crushing Sriwijaya of Indonesia 4-0 at Jaka Baring Stadium to qualify for the group phase of the ACL.
Al Ain, who won the Champions League in 2003 will be in Group F of the tournament, along with FC Seoul, Hangzhou Greentown and Nagoya Grampus.
The Indian champions were scuppered by a strong performance from Cote d’Ivoire winger Abdul Kader Keita who struck in the 33rd minute. The game was then put out of the reach of Dempo in the dying moments of the game after Brazilian striker Leandro Da Silva slotted the second goal home.
Dempo lost their last playoff against UAE’s Al Sharjah in 2009 and will now participate in the second-tier AFC Cup.
Indonesian hosts Sriwijaya were missing several key players through injury, and Al Ain took a quick advantage.
Brazilian striker Elias Ribeiro slotted home twice either side of half-time and Mohammed Haddaf and Omar Abdulrahman also scored.
"I'm glad that we played well," said Alexandre Gallo, Al Ain's Brazilian coach.
"Winning has been a habit in our domestic matches [over the years] but we rarely win by such a large margin. Our players did great, exactly like my instructions.
"We are ready for the group phase. I hope we'll do well."
Al Ain open their Champions League campaign at home to FC Seoul on March 1 and then will travel to Japan to play Nagoya Grampus on March 15.