AFC Cup 2017: Matchday Four - ASEAN, South, Central and East Zone previews

Tuesday will see clubs in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2017's ASEAN Zone (Group F, G & H), South Zone (Group E), Central Zone (Group D) and East Zone (Group I) take to the field for another round of exciting matches. Let's take a sneak-peek as to what lies ahead of us: 

GROUP D (Central Zone)

Altyn Asyr (TKM) v FC Istiklol (TJK): Turkmenistan's Altyn Asyr welcome FC Istiklol for their second Group D game on Tuesday, looking to capitalise on their opening match victory (2-1) against Alay FC. But their opponents themselves won their opening game too, a 2-0 win over Dordoi Bishkek FC. As such, a win on the day will put either side in a comfortable position in the group. 

But Altyn Asyr will have their task cut out, though they are at home, against the 2015 runners-up who will be hoping to replicate that run. Thankfully, the Turkmenistan side will welcome back Arslanmyrat Amanov from suspension. 

Venue: Sport Toplumy, Balkanabat
Kick-off: April 4, 17:00 UTC+5

AFC Cup: West Zone Preview

Dordoi FC (KGZ) v FC Alay (KGZ): This matchup appears to be an exciting clash. The two Kyrgyz rivals will love nothing better than to pull one over the other and what better stage than on the continent. Both teams are coming into this match on the back of losses and need a positive result on Tuesday or risk falling well behind and end up playing catchup. 

But sparks are expected to fly in the Kyrgyz Derby with both teams looking for their first points. FC Dordoi will be boosted by the return from suspensions of Anatolli Vlasichev, Marat Adzhiniiazov and Aziz Sydykov. 

Venue: Dolen Omurzakov Stadium, Bishkek
Kick-off: April 4, 16:00 UTC+6

GROUP E (South Zone)

Maziya S&RC (MDV) v Bengaluru FC (IND): Maldives champions Maziya Sports & Recreation Club have a tough task on their hands when they face last year's runners-up Bengaluru FC on Tuesday at home. Though they won their opening game against Abahani Dhaka 2-0, Bengaluru defeated rivals Mohun Bagan 2-1 and looked to have started their campaign well. But the Indian champions have been beset by troubles domestically and have only won two of their previous 12 games in all competitions. 

Maziya would do well to take heart from that statistic and try and outfox Albert Roca's side who have had troubles scoring goals. But Bengaluru are likely to prioritise the AFC Cup given their domestic campaign has fluttered and the victors in this game might just assume control of the group. 

Venue: National Stadium, Male
Kick-off: April 4, 16:00 UTC+5

Preview: Mohun Bagan vs Abahani

Mohun Bagan (IND) v Abahani Limited Dhaka (BAN): I-League outfit Mohun Bagan welcome Bangladeshi side Abahani Limited Dhaka to Kolkata on Tuesday, looking to notch their first win in Group E and recover from an opening day setback they suffered against Bengaluru FC. Abahani, meanwhile, also lost their first match to Maziya S&RC and are faced with the tough prospect of eking out a result against their formidable opponents away from home. 

All signs point towards a win for the Kolkata-based side but with an important domestic derby coming up for them, it remains to be seen whether Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen opts to rest their regulars for this game. 

Venue: Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, Kolkata
Kick-off: April 4, 19:00 UTC+5:30


Global FC (PHI) v Johor Darul Ta’zim (MAS): As Group F moves into matchday four, Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta'zim will want to take control of the group when they travel to the Philippines to take on Global FC. With seven points from three games, Johor sit atop the points table with Global FC following closely with six in their kitty. There is no doubt that a win on Wednesday will hand the victors a crucial advantage. 

But, Global FC will need to recover from the 4-0 hammering they suffered in Malaysia in the last round in the reverse fixture. It is not the impossible task but Johor are still the favourites for this tie. 

Venue: Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, Manila
Kick-off: April 5, 19:30 UTC+8

Preview: Global FC vs Johor Darul Ta'zim

Magwe FC (MYA) v Beoungket Angkor FC (CAM): When Myanmar's Magwe host Cambodian outfit Beoungket Angkor FC on Wednesday, their sole focus will be to move off the bottom spot in the group by outwitting their opponents at home. Magwe have only a single point, a creditable draw against Johor Darul Ta'zim to boast off, and were shocked 1-0 in the reverse fixture on matchday three by the Cambodian outfit. 

That particular result meant that Magwe gained their first points of the campaign and now will hope to build on that result. But, in Yangon, they are certain to face a tough task to repeat that result. 

Venue: Youth Training Centre, Yangon
Kick-off: April 5, 15:30, UTC+6:30


Felda United (MAS) v Ceres Negros (PHI): Group G has turned out to be very tight with just three points separating the Ceres Negros (placed first with five points) and Felda United (placed last with two points). As such, one result is all it takes to alter the dynamics and that is exactly what Ceres Negros wlll be wary of when they travel to Malaysia to take on Felda United. In the reverse fixture in the Philippines, Ceres and Felda played out a goalless draw but both teams are likely to go after the full quota of points on Tuesday.

Felda United, who are yet to register a win, will need a positive result in this game to roar back into contention for qualification to the next stage but it seems to be a tough ask, however inconsistent Ceres Negros have been.

Venue: Shah Alam Stadium, Shah Alam
Kick-off: April 4, 16:45 UTC+8 

Sathianathan laments Felda's lack of goals

Tampines Rovers (SIN) v Hanoi FC (VIE): Singapore's Tampines Rovers began the campaign with a promising victory over Felda United but back-to-back defeats since then have left them reeling in their quest to qualify for the next stage of the tournament. However, what hurt them the most was the 4-0 dismantling meted out by Hanoi FC in the reverse fixture in March, which was an unexpected result. 

On the back of that result, Hanoi are joint-top of the group with five points and will be desperate to make their own claims to top the group by repeating that performance. Will they able to do it? We'll know come Tuesday. 

Venue: Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore
Kick-off: April 4, 19:30 UTC+8


Than Quang Ninh (VIE) v Home United (SIN): The three-team Group H is at its half-way stage and Than Quang Ninh need to badly get their first win of the campaign to stand a chance to qualify when they host Singapore's Home United on Wednesday. Though they have just a point from two games, a win against Home United would see them draw level with group leaders Yadanarbon FC. 

In the reverse fixture in the previous round, Home United eked out a tightly fought 3-2 win but the Vietnamese side will b eager to make amends. The home team are without Mac Hong Quan after his dismissal in the aforementioned game while the suspended Song Ui-young misses out for the visitors.

Venue: My Dinh Stadium, Hanoi
Kick-off: April 5, 18:00, UTC+7

Fans Asian Player of Matchday 3

GROUP I (East Zone)

Erchim FC (MNG) v Kigwancha SC (PRK): Mongolia's Erchim FC will be desperately hoping to lay to rest their nightmares from the opening game of three-team Group I, where they were demolished 6-0 by North Korea's 4.25 SC. But unfortunately, they come up against another North Korean side in Kigwancha SC on Tuesday. 

But this game will be Kigwancha's first ever AFC Cup game and Erchim will hope to capitalise on the inexperience. The Mongolians will also be boosted by the return of Bilguun Ganbold.

Venue: Football Centre MFF, Ulaanbaatar
Kick-off: April 4, 16:00 UTC+8