AFC Cup 2017 Roundup: Al Wahda reaches West Zone final; Ceres Negros into ASEAN Zone final
The group stages in the Central, South and East Zones along with zonal semifinals in the West and ASEAN Zones came to an end in the AFC Cup 2017 on Wednesday, Let's take a clearer look at what transpired on the continent's secondary club competition:
WEST ZONE SF 2nd LEG:
AL WEHDAT 1-0 AL WAHDA [Deeb 7']
Syria's Al Wahda set up a West Zone final date with Air Force Club despite losing their Zonal semifinal second leg encounter against Al Wehdat 1-0 away. A 4-1 win in the first leg ensured the Syrians progressed 4-2 on aggregate.
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It was the home team who needed to score at least three goals to progress and they started with intent, taking the lead in the seventh minute through Abdallah Deeb. He controlled Omar Azmi’s cross from the right wing on the edge of the six-yard box before smartly finishing past Taha Mosa. The early goal seemed to have raised the home team's hopes of pulling off a spectacular comeback but Al Wahda defended expertly to ensure no more goals were conceded.
Al Wahda will now face defending champions Air Force Club in the West Zone final, with the winner advancing to the Grand Final.
ASEAN ZONE SF 2nd LEG:
CERES NEGROS 2-1 JOHOR DARUL TA'ZIM [Kawase 26' Fernando 90+4' - Guerra 65']
Philippine's Ceres Negros advanced to the ASEAN Zone finals to take on Singapore's Home United, following a dramatic 2-1 win over Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim on Wednesday, which helped them go through on away goals after a 4-4 tie on aggregate.
Ceres Negros only needed a win by a single-goal margin, thanks to two away goals scored in the first leg which ended 3-2 in favour of Johor. At home, Ceres Negros roared into the lead in the 26th minute when Kota Kawase put them ahead with a flick in from Kevin Ingresso's free kick towards the near post. But in the 65th minute, Johor got rewards for their endeavours with Gabriel Guerra running onto Cabrera's brilliant through pass before beating Muller with a low shot to put his team ahead on aggregate.
With Johor looking like going through, drama struck. Deep into stoppage time, referee awarded Ceres a penalty for a foul by Aidil enalty. Fernando Rodriguez calmly put away the spot kick to give Ceres the win while Farizal Marlias was shown a red card for remonstrating with the referee.
GROUP D (CENTRAL ZONE):
FC ALAY 5-4 DORDOI FC [Tukhtasinov 30' Murolimjon 60' Sidibe 73', 88' Alimov 90+' - Shamshiev 11' Azizov 26' Zhygalbek 74', 81']
FC Alay and Dordoi FC produced a nine-goal classic in what was ultimately a deadrubber in Group D on Wednesday with the home team ending the campaign on a high note.
Islam Shamshiev gave Dordoi the lead in the 11th minute after dribbling past a couple of defenders and finishing past the goalkeeper. 15 minutes later, Alisher Azizov side footed home to send Dordoi two goals up. However, Umarbek Tukhtasinov reduced the deficit for Alay before Ahmedov Murolimjon and Issa Modibo Sidibe struck in the 60th and 73rd minutes to make it 3-2 in favour of the home side. However, the drama had not run its course in the game.
Kayrat Zhygalbek came up with a dramatic double in the 74th and 81st minutes to make it 4-3 in favour of Dordoi but there was another twist in the tale. Sidibe frabbed his brace, and Alay's equaliser in the 88th minute before Alimov headed home the winner to send Alay fans into disbelief. This was Alay's first win in the tournament this year.
FC ISTIQLOL 1-0 ALTYN ASYR [ Vasiev 90+2']
Tajikistan's FC Istiqlol advanced to the Inter-Zonal playoffs after winning Group D, courtesy a 1-0 win over Altyn Asyr on Wednesday in the final group game.
Both teams were locked on points going into this game and all Istiqlol required was a win or a goalless draw to progress. With Altyn Asyr left with no choice but to score on the day, they created several chances early on with Murat Yakshiyev hitting the woodwork twice. Just as the game looked set to be heading for a goalless draw, Dilshod Vasiev finished past Mamed Orazmuhamedov to give Istiqlol an outright win that sees them grab spot in the Inter-Zonal playoffs.
GROUP E (SOUTH ZONE):
BENGALURU FC 1-0 MAZIYA S&RC [Chhetri 57']
Last year's finalists Bengaluru FC kept their AFC Cup campaign alive by advancing to the Inter-Zonal playoffs after a 1-0 home win over Maziya S&RC saw them top Group E.
Bengaluru, who had trailed Maziya by three points prior to the game, knew that only a win would send them through but struggled to break the Maziya defence in a tight first half. Maziya themselves had chances to break the deadlock but failed to do so. However, after the break, Bengaluru came out all guns blazing and soon forced the winner. In the 57th minute, captain Sunil Chhetri found the top corner from a freekick from the edge of the area to send the home fans into raptures.
Maziya failed to claw their way back into the game as a scrappy end saw Bengaluru progress to the next stage, on account of having a superior head-to-head record over their opponents.
ABAHANI LTD DHAKA 1-1 MOHUN BAGAN [Chizoba 9' - Yusa 82']
In the other Group E game, a 1-1 draw between Abahani Dhaka and Mohun Bagan meant that the Indian side finished third while the hosts were consigned to the bottom spot.
The home side began the game in fantastic fashion, roaring into the lead in the ninth minute through Sunday Chizoba. The Bangladeshi side had a golden chance to make it 2-0 four minutes later when they were awarded a penalty but Jonathan Brown failed to score, much to the relief of the Indian side. There weren't much chances in the second half until Mohun Bagan were awarded a penalty of their own in the 82nd minute. Skipper Katsumi Yusa made absolutely no mistake as Mohun Bagan salvaged a draw from the tie and ensured they finished third in the group standings.
GROUP I (EAST ZONE):
KIGWANCHA SC 7-0 ERCHIM SC [Kwang-hyok 30', 40', 79', 82' Kuk-chol 60' Thae-hyok 70' Yong-il 74']
North Korean side Kigwancha SC laid Mongolia's Erchim SC to the sword, powering seven goals past them to end their AFC Cup campaign on a high note. But despite the victory, they could not finish above compatriots 4.25 SC who have a better head-to-head record.
Rim Kwang-hyok was the star of the show for Kigwancha SC. He scored his first in the 30th minute before doubling his and his team's tally in the 40th minute. Kang Kuk-chol made it 3-0 at the hour mark before Han Thae-hyok and Kim Yong-il made it 5-0.
Rim the proceeded to net his hattrick from the penalty spot before winding up the scoring in the 82nd minute with his fourth of the game. The defeat was Erchim's fourth in four games as they end a miserable campaign where they shipped goals galore.