The first round of fixtures in the AFC Cup 2017 have commenced and we saw four games take place in Group A and B (West Zone) on Monday.
Not surprisingly, we saw two draws and just the two goals scored from the four opening day fixtures as the teams started out on a cautious note.
Let’s take a look at what transpired on Monday in Asia’s second-tier club competition.
Al Jaish (SYR) 1-0 Al Ahli (JOR) [Hamdoko 24’]
Syrian champions Al Jaish SC got their AFC Cup Group A campaign off to a winning start after downing Jordan’s Al Ahli by a single goal in Doha.
The side from Damascus were always the favourites against the Jordanian FA Cup champions who were making their first ever AFC Cup group stage appearance. But it turned out to be a debut not so memorable for the Jordanians when midfielder Mohammad Hamdoko scored what proved to be the winner in the 24th minute. His left-footed finish from close range came after a defender missed his clearance.
A red card for midfielder Saleem Obaid did not make things easier for Al Ahli as they completed the tie with just 10 men.
Al Zawraa (IRQ) 0-0 Al Suwaiq (OMA)
Iraqi champions Al Zawraa were forced to share the spoils with Oman’s Al Suwaiq club after a goalless stalemate in their Group A opener at the Grand Hamad stadium in Doha.
In what proved to be a tight and cagey affair, the best chances fell to Al Zawraa striker Mustafa Kareem in the second half. He shot just wide in the 51st minute while a header in the 79th minute went agonisingly close.
But there were no more chances for either side to take full points from the game as Al Jaish claimed an early lead in Group A.
Safa SC (LIB) 0-0 Al Quwa Al Jawiya (IRQ)
The defending champions Al Quwa Al Jawiya of Iraq were held to a goalless draw by Lebanese club Safa SC in their Group B opener in Saida.
After a barren first half, which saw neither goals nor chances, Air Force Club (Al Quwa Al Jawiya) almost took the lead in the second half in a bizarre move that saw goalkeeper Fahad Talib’s long punt up bounce off his counterpart’s head and on to the crossbar. Air Force club’s second-half substitute Thamer Barghash also headed against the crossbar late on but the deadlock would not be broken on the night.
The result means Air Force club have now gone 10 games unbeaten in the AFC Cup while Safa will be happy with their efforts.
Al Hidd (BAH) 0-1 Al Wahda (SYR) [Osama Omari 40’]
Syrian club Al Wahda got their AFC Cup 2017 campaign off to a winning start by narrowly getting the better of Bahrain champions Al Hidd in Manama.
Osama Omari scored the winner in the 40th minute for the Syrian side after slack defending from Al Hidd. They failed to clear a cross adequately and the ball fell to Omari inside the box and his shot left the goalkeeper Abbas Ahmed flummoxed as it took a deflection and nestled in the net.
There were very few chances in the game for the home team to grab an equaliser as Al Wahda held on with ease and gained control of Group B.