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Matchday Six: Central, South & East Zones – Preview

Kuala Lumpur: The last round of Group Stage matches take place this week in the 2019 AFC Cup's Central, South and East Zones with the final tickets to the knockout stages up for grabs.

After DPR Korea's 4.25 SC clinched their progress to the Inter-Zone Semi-finals on Matchday Five as Group I winners, the identity of the qualifiers from Group D and E will be decided on Wednesday.

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Group D

Last year's runners-up Altyn Asyr of Turkmenistan are in pole position with a two-point lead at the top of Group D going into the final matchday, but they will need to travel to the team in second place - two-time finalists FC Istiklol.

A fixture that is a repeat of the final Group D tie in 2018 when Altyn Asyr memorably defeated the Tajik side 3-2 with a winner seven minutes into stoppage time.

Istiklol are struggling for form on the Continent with a second consecutive defeat on Matchday Five after a 3-2 loss to fellow Tajik outfit FC Khujand.

That win was not enough to keep last week's victors in contention for the knockout stage, though, and their meeting with Kyrgyz Republic side Dordoi will be a contest for third place.

Dordoi were unable to follow up their impressive Matchday Four win over Istiklol and were defeated 3-1 by Altyn Asyr in Ashgabat last week.


FC Istiklol (TJK) vs Altyn Asyr (TKM)
Venue: Republican Central Stadium, Dushanbe
Kick-off: June 26, 17:30 UTC+5

Dordoi FC (KYG) vs FC Khujand (TJK)
Venue: Dolen Omurzakov Stadium, Bishkek
Kick-off: June 26, 20:00 UTC+6

Group E

After Chennaiyin FC could only draw 1-1 away at Minerva Punjab on Matchday Five, the Indian club will now need assistance from their compatriots if they hope to reach the knockout stage.

Abahani Limited Dhaka leapfrogged Chennaiyin courtesy of a comprehensive 5-0 win over Nepal's Manang Marshyangdi Club, but the Bangladesh champions must now travel to Minerva.

An away win for the Sky Blues would guarantee their place in the Inter-Zone semi-finals but any other result would see them casting a nervous eye to Kathmandu where Chennaiyin face Manang.

In their previous encounter Chennaiyin defeated Manang 2-0 courtesy of goals from Chris Herd and Mailson and nothing less than a second victory will do at ANFA Complex for John Gregory's men.

The Indian side can take comfort from the record of their countrymen, though, as Minerva have drawn all five of their AFC Cup matches so far - a sixth would greatly increase Chennaiyin's chances.

Minerva Punjab (IND) vs Abahani Limited Dhaka (BAN)
Venue: Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium, Guwahati
Kick-off: June 26, 16:00 UTC+5:30

Manang Marshyangdi Club (NEP) vs Chennaiyin FC (IND)
Venue: ANFA Complex, Kathmandu
Kick-off: June 26, 16:15 UTC+5:45

Group I

Eight points clear at the top of Group I, 4.25 SC secured their place in the Inter-Zone Semi-finals with a 5-0 defeat of Chinese Taipei's Hang Yuen in Matchday Five.

The DPR Korea side maintain a 100 percent record with five wins in five games and victory away at Hong Kong's Kitchee SC would see them enter the knockout rounds as the only side with a perfect record from the Group Stage.

Hang Yuan, meanwhile, will look to record their first points of the AFC Cup campaign with the visit of Hong Kong's Wofoo Tai Po.

The Chinese Taipei side impressed in spells during their Matchday Two meeting with Tai Po before eventually succumbing 4-2 in an exciting game at Mong Kok Stadium. They will be hoping for better on home turf.

For Kitchee SC, their 2-0 defeat away to 4.25 SC was as close as any side has come to defeating the Koreans so far. They will also be mindful that a result at home could see them edge out domestic rivals Tai Po to a third place finish in the group.


Hang Yuan FC (TPE) vs Wofoo Tai Po (HKG)
Venue: Taipei Municipal Stadium, Taipei
Kick-off: June 26, 20:00 UTC+8

Kitchee SC (HKG) vs 4.25 SC (PRK)
Venue: Mong Kok Stadium, Hong Kong
Kick-off: June 26, 20:00 UTC+8

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