AFC Cup 2018: Group Stage Matchday One Preview: Central, South & East Zones

Asia's secondary club competition is all set to start in the South, Central and East Zones...

The AFC Cup 2018 is all set to start with the Central, South and East Zone matches getting underway. Here is a look at what awaits us this week: 

GROUP D (Central Zone): 

FC Istiklol

FC Alay (KGZ) v Altyn Asyr (TKM):

Kyrgyzstan's FC Alay are up against Turkmenistan's Altyn Asyr at home in the opening matchday in Group D on Wednesday. FC Alay are taking part in their second successive AFC Cup campaign while Altyn Asyr are in their third campaign in a row. Altyn Asyr are yet to qualify to the knockout stages and will be eager to start on the right note against Alay. 

Venue: Akhmatbek Suyinbaev Stadium, Osh
Kick-off: March 7, 14:00 UTC+6

FC Istiklol (TJK) v FC Ahal (TKM): 

The second match in the group will see Tajikistan's FC Istiklol host Turkmenistan's FC Ahal on Wednesday. Istiklol, the runners-up from 2017, will be hoping to make it one step higher this time around and will have nothing but a win in their sights agianst Ahal. 

Venue: Hisor Central Stadium, Hisor
Kick-off: March 7, 18:00 UTC+5

GROUP E (South Zone)

Abahani vs Bengaluru

Abahani Dhaka Limited (BAN) v New Radiant SC (MDV):

Maldives outfit New Radiant travel to Bangladesh to take on Abahani Dhaka Limited in the Group E opener on Wednesday. Abahani debuted in the competition last year while New Radiant are back after sitting the 2017 edition out. Abahani are known to be strong at home and the side from Maldives will need to be wary. 

Venue: Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka
Kick-off: March 7, 18:00 UTC+6

P.S:  The game between Aizawl FC and Bengaluru FC has been postponed. 

GROUP I (East Zone): 

Benfica Macau (MAC) v Hang Yuen FC (TPE): 

Group I kicks off on Wednesday when Macau's Benfica take on Hang Yuen FC from Chinese Taipei at home. Not only are both the sides making their debuts in the compeition but also are the first ever teams from their respective nations to participate in the AFC Cup. It should be an interesting clash. 

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Venue: MUST Stadium, Macau
Kick-off: March 7, 20:00 UTC+8