Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2017 Group stages saw action commence in Group A and C. Let's take a look at what transpired in the four games that finished on Monday, 13th March:
Al Suwaiq 0-0 Al Ahli (JOR)
Oman’s Al Suwaiq and Jordan’s Al Ahli played out a goalless draw in Muscat which, in the end, did neither team any favours with respect to their bid to qualify from this group.
Al Ahli had several chances in the first half, most of which fell to their Liberian forward Marcus Macauley who failed to capitalise on them. Al Suwaiq also had a good opportunity to take the lead when Abdulrahman Al Ghassani was denied by Al Ahli custodian Mohammed Khater.
Al Ahli had a great chance to take the lead in the second half when captain Yazan Dahshan hit the post from inside the penalty box.
The result leaves both teams on two points each from three games and well below the second-placed Al Zawra’a.
Al Zawra’a 3-1 Al Jaish [Karrar 40’, 90’ Awad (OG) 50’ - Khashrif 54’]
Iraqi side Al Zawra’a masterminded a vital 3-1 victory over Syria’s Al Jaish which sees them cut down the Syrian side’s lead atop Group A.
Al Zawra’a took the lead in the 40th minute when former AFC Youth Player of the Year Mohannad Abdulraheem Karrar ran on to Nadim Sabag’s pass down the left fank before cutting in to the area and lofted a finish over the Al Jaish 'keeper. The lead was doubled five minutes after half-time when Amjed Kalaf’s attempted pass from inside the Al Jaish box deflected off Ezzedin Al Awad and nestled inside the net.
But Al Jaish were handed a lifeline just four minutes later when Bashar Khashrif headed home Zakria Kadoor’s freekick. Though the Syrian team’s hopes of a comeback were up, it was snuffed out by Karrar in the 90th minute when he received Alaa Mhawi’s pass and drilled a finish across the Al Jaish number one.
The result sees Al Jaish sit atop the table with six points while Al Zawra’a are only a point behind.
Nejmeh 1-2 Al Muharraq [Takaji 65’ - Fuakuputu 15’ 47’]
Lebanon’s Nejmeh had only themselves to blame after slumping to a 1-2 defeat at home against Al Muharraq of Bahrain in a round three encounter in Group C.
Having won just a single point so far, Al Muharraq were desperate for a positive result on Monday and Doris Fuakuputu’s 15th-minute opener was a positive sign. The Congolese forward headed in Mohamed Al Banna’s cross from the right wing to give Al Muharraq the lead.
He would go on to double the Bahraini side’s advantage in stunning fashion in the 47th minute with a peach of an effort from 35 yards that nestled in the top corner. In the 62nd minute, Nejmeh were given a route back into the game when they awarded a penalty. But Abdulrazak Al Husein’s penalty was saved by Abdulla Al Kabi.
Though they got a goal back finally in the 65th minute through Khalid Takaji who converted yet another spot kick, Nejmeh would go on to rue the initial miss from the penalty spot.
The win sees Al Muharraq storm up to the second spot in Group C with four points while Nejmeh remain third with three.
Al Wehdat 2-1 Saham SC [Wridat 27’ Mustafa 49’ - Al Ghassani 14’]
Jordanian side Al Wehdat needed to produce a comeback to down Saham SC 2-1 at home in a round three Group C encounter on Monday.
Saham SC took a surprise lead in the 14th minute through Mohammad Al Ghassani volleyed home Mohsin Jouhar’s pass lofted pass into the box. But the lead did not last long and the home team hit back in the 27th minute. Ahmed Wridat headed in a cross from the left from close range to pull the hosts level.
Al Wehdat would take the lead, four minutes after the restart when Mohammad Mustafa headed in Ahmed Hisham’s corner. Al Wehdat could have made the scoreline read more comfortable for them when a penalty was awarded to them in the 67th minute. But Munther Abu Amara saw his kick saved by the Saham custodian’s flailing legs.
But the Jordanian side held out to notch all three points and open up a three point advantage atop Group C.