Matchday Two: Central, South & East Zones Preview
Kuala Lumpur: The 12 teams in the Central, South and East Zones of the 2019 AFC Cup will be back in action on Wednesday when they play their second round of fixtures.
After the first set of games, Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol lead the way in Group D, Bangladesh’s Abahani Limited Dhaka do likewise in Group E and both 4.25 SC of DPR Korea and Hong Kong’s Wofoo Tai Po are on maximum points in Group I.
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The 2018 runners-up Altyn Asyr of Turkmenistan will renew acquaintances with Istiklol when the two sides face off in Ashgabat on Wednesday.
Altyn Asyr scored deep into stoppage time in the last game of the 2018 group stage to claim a 3-2 victory over Istiklol in Dushanbe and eliminate the Tajik side, before going on a run to the final.
Annasahet Annasahedov equalised with five minutes to play as they began their 2019 campaign with a 1-1 draw away at Kyrgyz Republic’s Dordoi FC, while Ruslan Koryan scored a brace as Istiklol defeated fellow Tajik side FC Khujand 3-0.
Elsewhere, Khujand will look to get their first points on the board when they host Dordoi in what will be the first-ever group match to be staged at their home.
Vahyt Orazsahedov’s goal against his former club Altyn Asyr helped Dordoi begin their 2019 campaign with a 1-1 draw and they will now look to build on that point when they visit Tajikistan.
Altyn Asyr (TKM) vs FC Istiklol (TJK)
Venue: Kopetdag Stadium, Ashgabat
Kick-off: April 17, 17:00 UTC+5
FC Khujand (TJK) vs Dordoi FC (KGZ)
Venue: 20 Years of Independence of Tajikistan Stadium, Khujand City
Kick-off: April 17, 16:00 UTC+5
Abahani Limited Dhaka will look to maintain their lead at the Group E summit when they host India’s Minerva Punjab in the Bangladeshi capital on Wednesday.
Masih Saighani scored the only goal of the game as Abahani began their campaign with a 1-0 victory over Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club in Kathmandu.
Minerva, meanwhile, ended goalless against fellow Indian team Chennaiyin FC in what was both sides’ maiden appearance in the competition.
John Gregory’s Chennaiyin will next take on Manang Marshyangdi in Ahmedabad and will be looking to pick up their first three points of the campaign.
The Nepalese team are the only side without a point in Group E but they will welcome Saheed Oluwashina back from suspension after he missed the opening game against Abahani.
Abahani Limited Dhaka (BAN) vs Minerva Punjab (IND)
Venue: Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka
Kick-off: April 17, 17:45 UTC+6
Chennaiyin FC (IND) vs Manang Marshyangdi Club (BAN)
Venue: The Arena Stadium, Ahmedabad
Kick-off: April 17, 19:30 UTC+5:30
4.25 SC will aim to build on their winning start in Group I when they welcome Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC to Pyongyang for their Matchday Two clash on Wednesday.
The DPR Korea side ran out 3-0 winners over Chinese Taipei’s Hang Yuan FC in their opening game of the campaign as they target a place in the knockout rounds for the third successive year.
AFC Champions League participants in 2018, Kitchee got off to a disappointing start in their return to the AFC Cup when they lost 4-2 to fellow Hong Kong side Wofoo Tai Po. They will have Matthew Smith available after the Australian defender served his one-match ban.
Chung Wai Keung and Harry Sawyer scored late goals as Tai Po enjoyed the perfect start to their first-ever AFC Cup campaign after Kitchee had earlier come from two goals down.
The Hong Kong side will next host Hang Yuan, who, after making their debut last year, are still seeking their maiden point in the tournament.
4.25 SC (PRK) vs Kitchee SC (HKG)
Venue: Kim II Sung Stadium, Pyongyang
Kick-off: April 17, 17:00 UTC+9
Wofoo Tai Po (HKG) vs Hang Yuan FC (TPE)
Venue: Mongkok Stadium, Hong Kong
Kick-off: April 17, 20:00 UTC+8
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