West Zonal Semi-finals: Ones to Watch
Kuala Lumpur: Four teams from Jordan, Syria and Lebanon will contest the 2019 AFC Cup West Zonal Semi-finals in the coming days.
The four teams battle for a ticket to the AFC Cup final, starting with the first leg of the semi-finals, where Al Wehdat of Jordan host Lebanon's Al Ahed on Monday, while Syria's Al Jaish play Jordan's Al Jazeera on Tuesday.
The return fixtures take place the following week with the two winners facing off in the two-legged Zonal Final in September and October. The West Asia champions get a ticket to the 2019 AFC Cup final.
We look at four players - one from each of the semi-finalists - who could prove to be the difference-makers.
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Forward, Al Wehdat
After representing Jordan in two AFC U23 Championships, Faisal was a member of the squad that reached the Round of 16 in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, making substitute appearances against Australia and Vietnam.
In the 2019 AFC Cup, no player in the West Asia groups scored more goals than Faisal's six. The 24-year-old is not only his side's top scorer in the AFC Cup, he also finished the Jordanian League season as the competition's top scorer, with 15 goals; three more than his nearest challenger.
The striker spent his entire career at Al Wehdat, apart from a short loan stint at Kuwait SC last year.
After a blank AFC Cup opening match, Faisal showed his scoring capabilities on Matchday Two, bagging four goals in Al Wehdat's 6-2 win over Hilal Al Quds. The 24-year-old then added his fifth of the campaign on Matchday Five against Nejmeh SC, before getting on the scoresheet against Hilal Al Quds again in the return fixture.
Forward, Al Ahed SC
In his second consecutive AFC Cup campaign in Al Ahed colours, Kdouh's influence at the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium is growing by the day. Last year, the Lebanese forward contributed two goals and as many assists as the club reached the West Asia Zonal Semi-finals.
This time around, Kdouh was involved in 62% of Al Ahed's eight goals in the AFC Cup group stage, scoring four goals and setting up one more.
Domestically, Kdouh scored five goals in the domestic league as Al Ahed were crowned Lebanese champions for the third year in a row.
The forward already has a good record in the AFC Cup Zonal Semi-finals, having scored two goals at the same stage last year, when Al Ahed were beaten by eventual champions Air Force Club 5-3 on aggregate.
Midfielder, Al Jaish
Despite Al Wahda's struggles in the 2018 AFC Cup where they finished bottom of their group, Moustafa was a shining light for the Syrian side, netting three of their five goals in the competition.
His performances earned him a move to the country's biggest club, Al Jaish, and a return to the AFC Cup the following season.
Moustafa needed just three halves of football to break his AFC Cup duck in Al Jaish colours, scoring the winner in the Matchday Two away encounter against Nejmeh. He then added a second in the 1-1 draw with Al Wehdat back in April.
The forward's third group stage goal was a decisive one, helping the Damascus-based side seal qualification to the Zonal Semi-Finals as best runners-up after a 2-2 draw on the final matchday.
Midfielder, Al Jazeera
Tannous has been at the heart of Al Jazeera's attacking play this season. The midfielder joined Al Jazeera as a teenager in 2011, and has grown in importance since the departure of star player Musa Al Taamari.
The 27-year-old excels at supplying through passes to set up teammates as well as finding the back of the net from long range.
Only Mahmoud Al Mardi (11) took more shots from outside the box than Tannous (9), and the latter scored twice from his nine attempts; Against Syria's Al Ittihad in Matchday Two and against Bahrain's Al Najma on Matchday Five.
The Jordanian international playmaker created nine chances for his teammates, contributing to his side reaching the Zonal Semi-finals for the second year running.
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