The group stages of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League 2017 will see round three action in four groups (B,D,E & F) on Tuesday and Goal takes a look at the mouthwatering clashes that await us:-
Esteghlal Khouzestan (IRN) vs Lekhwiya SC (QAT)
Esteghlal Khouzestan got off to a perfect start to their Group B campaign after victories in the initial two rounds and will be looking to make it three wins on the trot when they welcome Qatari side Lekhwiya SC on Tuesday.
Moreover, Esteghlal Khouzestan are yet to concede a goal in the tournament. In fact, they are the only club to do so after two rounds. But their defence will put to test by Lekhwiya forward Youssef El Arabi. The former Porto and Granada striker has already scored three goals in two appearances and will be Lekhwiya’s main threat.
Lekhwiya, second in the group with four points, will want to ensure they don’t allow the trailing teams a chance to make up ground on them. Interestingly, this will be the first time these two teams will be battling each other.
Venue: Ghadir stadium, Ahwaz
Kickoff: Mar 14, 17:30 UTC+3.30
Al Fateh (KSA) vs Al Jazira (UAE)
Al Fateh will be eyeing their first win in the competition when they host Emirati side Al Jazira on Tuesday at Al Hasa. In fact, Al Jazira also have struggled and are yet to notch a single point. Failure to clinch a positive result on Tuesday might spell an end to their hopes of qualifying from this group.
Al Jazira are indeed the underdogs against Al Fateh who are playing at home. Moreover, the Emirati side are yet to score a goal in this year’s tournament.
Al Fateh will be hoping their opponents’ woeful scoring record and nightmares while travelling come back to haunt them.
Venue: Prince Abdullah bin Jalawi stadium, Al Hasa
Kickoff: Mar 14, 18:20 UTC+3
Al Rayyan (QAT) vs Persepolis (IRN)
Michael Laudrup’s Al Rayyan will want to return to winning ways when they take on Iran’s Persepolis at home in a round three clash in Group D.
After starting the campaign with a 2-1 win over Al Wahda, they were stunned by a late winner by Al Hilal in the second game of the group. But Al Rayyan are in good form domestically and will be looking to ride that wave of confidence to defeat Persepolis on Tuesday.
Persepolis, themselves, came up with a stunning late turnaround to defeat Al Wahda in the previous round and are already 10 points clear domestically. Sitting joint top of Group D with Al Wahda, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Venue: Jassim Bin Hammad Stadium, Doha
Kickoff: Mar 14, 18:25 UTC+3
Al Wahda (UAE) vs Al Hilal (KSA)
Two-time continental winners Al Hilal are on a high after defeating Al Rayyan in the last round and will be hoping to consolidate their position atop the table when they travel to Saudi Arabia to take on bottom-placed Al Wahda on Tuesday.
The hosts are reeling after two defeats and have no choice but to come up with a gritty response if they are to stay alive in this group. Moreover, Al Wahda have a very bad record against Saudi Arabian opponents are not in the best of mindsets to pull off an upset.
Venue: Al Nahyan stadium, Abu Dhabi
Kickoff: Mar 14, 19:15 UTC+4
Ulsan Hyundai (KOR) vs Muangthong United (THA)
Thailand’s Muangthong United, who find themselves leading Group E in their first-ever AFC Champions League campaign, will be hoping to keep their dream run going when they travel to South Korea to pit their wits against Ulsan Hyundai who are in rip-roaring form.
Ulsan Hyundai bounced back from their opening round loss to Kashima Antlers by trouncing Brisbane Roar 6-0 in the last round and will be hoping to feed off that morale-boosting result against the plucky Thai side.
Muangthong United also have an inspirational win against Kashima Antlers and superb domestic form to draw strength from. Chanathip Songkrasin has been at his creative best for the Thai side and he will need to be shackled if Ulsan Hyundai want a positive result on Tuesday.
Venue: Ulsan Munsu Football stadium, Ulsan
Kickoff: Mar 14, 19:30 UTC+9
Kashima Antlers (JPN) vs Brisbane Roar (AUS)
After a composed victory against Ulsan Hyundai in the opening weekend, Kashima Antlers were shocked by Muangthong United in the following round. The FIFA Club World Cup runners up will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they host a bruised Brisbane Roar on Tuesday.
The A-League outfit has been poor so far in the group and rightly occupy the bottom spot. To turn this around is a big ask against Kashima Antlers who are playing at home but they have to come up with an answer to their woes.
Their recent domestic victory against Newcastle Jets should give them some confidence while Antlers will be hoping Roar’s woeful attacking form continues.
Venue: Kashima Soccer Stadium, Ibaraki
Kickoff: Mar 14, 19:00 UTC+9
Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) vs Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)
After starting the Group G campaign with a resounding victory over Eastern SC, Guangzhou Evergrande had to battle hard to gain a point against Suwon Bluewings in the last round. As such, they will be desperate to get back on track against Japanese outfit Kawasaki Frontale.
But the Japanese side are unbeaten in their previous three away sojourns in the continent, winning two of them. Though they have only two points to show from their opening two games, Guangzhou will need to be on the top of their game to down the Japanese side.
This should be a tight encounter but home advantage gives Luis Felipe Scolari’s side the favourites’ tag.
Venue: Tianhe stadium, Guangzhou
Kickoff: Mar 14, 20:00 UTC+8
Eastern SC (HKG) vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings (KOR)
Coached by Chan Yuen-ting, who became the first female coach to lead a team out in a continental competition, Eastern SC gained a historic point in the last round against Kawasaki Frontale. The team from Hong Kong will want to keep the momentum going when Suwon Samsung Bluewings visit them on Tuesday.
They responded well to a 7-0 thrashing in the first round, handed out by Guangzhou, and Yuen-ting will be eager for her team to keep punching above their weight.
Suwon Bluewings, on the other hand, are coming after holding a rampant Guangzhou Evergrande but are yet to win their first win of the campaign. But they cannot afford to take Eastern SC lightly who are bound to sit back and concede possession while looking to counter.
Venue: Mongkok stadium, Hongkong
Kickoff: Mar 14, 20:00 UTC+8