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Crunch time looms for AFC Cup West Zone hopefuls

Friday, April 14, 2017
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Kuala Lumpur: It’s crunch time for many of the 2017 AFC Cup teams in the West Zone with Matchday Five potentially seeing some sides advance to the last 16 and others having their elimination confirmed.

A number of crucial fixtures will take place at the beginning of next week as Group C resumes on Monday and Groups A and B take centre stage a day later.

Group C

Table-toppers Al Wehdat of Jordan will guarantee at least a top-two place in Group C of the AFC Cup should they defeat Lebanon’s Nejmeh on Monday.

After successive defeats, opponents Nejmeh must win to avoid being eliminated from the continental competition. But the Lebanese side will be without Ahmed Taktouk after his dismissal in the 1-0 reversal to Bahrain’s Al Muharraq two weeks ago.

Elsewhere, Al Muharraq will also confirm their place in the top two with a win over Oman’s Saham, who will be unable to call on the suspended Musaab Al Sharqi and will exit should they lose.

Nejmeh SC (LIB) v Al Wehdat (JOR)
Venue: Saida Municipal Stadium, Saida
Kick-off: April 17, 15:15 UTC+3

Al Muharraq (BHR) v Saham Club (OMA)
Venue: Bahrain National Stadium, Manama
Kick-off: April 17, 18:45 UTC+3

Group A

AFC Cup Group A leaders Al Zawraa of Iraq and second-placed Al Jaish of Syria will secure top-two finishes in the standings should they claim away wins over Oman’s Al Suwaiq and Al Ahli of Jordan respectively on Tuesday.

Al Zawraa moved to the top of the standings with back-to-back victories over Al Jaish and they now welcome back Abbas Al Kaabi from suspension. Bottom side Al Suwaiq must win to avoid being ousted and they will have midfielder Omer Al Fazari available after suspension to help their cause.

Despite surrendering top spot following the losses to Al Zawraa, Al Jaish remain a point above third-placed Al Ahli and will end the Jordanians’ qualification hopes with victory while a draw, coupled with an Al Zawraa win, would see the Iraqi side win the group.

Al Ahli (JOR) v Al Jaish (SYR)
Venue: Amman International Stadium, Amman
Kick-off: April 18, 17:00 UTC+3

Al Suwaiq (OMA) v Al Zawraa (IRQ)
Venue: Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Muscat
Kick-off: April 18, 19:00 UTC+4

Group B

Victory for Al Wahda over Bahrain’s Al Hidd would guarantee the Syrian side one of the top two spots in Group B of the AFC Cup on Tuesday.

Should Al Hidd run out winners, though, they would leapfrog their opponents with one game remaining and continue a run that has seen them win two on the bounce after defeats in their opening couple of fixtures.

Holders Air Force Club of Iraq, meanwhile, will oust Lebanon’s Safa with a draw but will be looking for a win ahead of a potentially crucial Matchday Six encounter with Al Hidd.

Al Wahda (SYR) v Al Hidd (BHR)
Venue: Saida Municipal Stadium, Saida
Kick-off: April 18, 15:15 UTC+3

Air Force Club (IRQ) v Safa (LIB)
Venue: Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: April 18, 18:00 UTC+3

Photos: Lagardère Sports