Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Kuala Lumpur: The draw for the 2015 AFC Cup took place on Thursday with a record 41 participating teams learning their first steps to glory in the ever-evolving continental club competition.
The draw, conducted by AFC General Secretary Dato’ Alex Soosay, featured member associations that had previously contested the AFC President’s Cup, the last edition of which took place back in September as the Confederation opens the door for more countries to participate at the highest level of club competition.
The increase in the number of member associations taking part has seen the introduction of a preliminary stage ahead of the play-offs, while teams from nations that are taking part in the AFC Champions League have alternates on standby for the AFC Cup should the league champions from these countries successfully advance to the group phase of Asia’s flagship club tournament.
Three-time champions Kuwait SC are looking to extend their record haul of AFC Cup titles and are in confident mood following Tuesday’s draw in Kuala Lumpur.
In Group D, Kuwait SC will face either Bahraini outfit Riffa or Manama, Nejmah of Lebanon and one of four teams who advance from the AFC Cup play-offs in the East.
“Frankly speaking as a three-time champion and two times runner-up, I think we are at the highest level in this competition,” said Kuwait SC team manager Tamer Abdelall, whose side claimed the AFC Cup in 2009, 2012, and 2013.
“There is no one we fear and I think we will make it a fourth-time as champion for Kuwait SC.”
Last year’s runners-up Erbil of Iraq could face their opponents from the 2014 final in Group C if Qadsia fail to make it through the AFC Champions League play-offs. If the Kuwaiti side proves successful, though, Al Arabi will be their replacements and join newcomers Istiklol from Tajikistan, as well as a successful AFC Cup play-off team.
Elsewhere in the West, Group B will see Iraqi Premier League champions Al Shorta take on a pair of debutants in Palestine’s Taraji Wadi Al Nes and Al Jazeera of Jordan, in addition to a play-off winner.
Syrian side Al Wahda, though, will have to wait until the completion of the AFC Champions League play-offs to learn their opponents in Group A as Jordan’s Al Wehdat, and Al Nahda of Oman are all involved in the early February’s fixtures with That Ras Club and Al Suwaiq their potential replacements, whilst a play-off winner rounds out the group.
In the East, meanwhile, Group E features last year’s semi-finalists Persipura Jayapura of Indonesia alongside I-League champions Bengaluru FC who make their first appearance in the AFC Cup. Warriors FC or Tampines Rovers join the duo along with a play-off winner.
Group G encompasses South China of Hong Kong, Malaysian team Pahang FA, Philippines top-flight champions Global FC and either Yadnarbon or Yangon United of Myanmar depending on the former’s fortunes in the AFC Champions League play-offs.
Hong Kong’s AFC Champions League hopefuls Kitchee or alternates Sun Pegasus make-up Group F alongside East Bengal of India, Singaporean outfit Balestier Khalsa, and either Johor Darul Ta’zim or Selangor of Malaysia.
Finally, Group H contains either Persib Bandung of Indonesia or Arema Indonesia, Ayeyawady United from Myanmar, first-timers Lao Toyota FC and Maldivian club New Radiant.
The AFC Champions League qualifying play-offs concludes on 17 February, with the AFC Cup group stage beginning on 25/26 February.
AFC CUP 2015: Play-off schedule (West)
PR1 Ahal FC (TKM) v FC Dordoi (KGZ)
PR2 Altyn Asyr FC (TKM) v Al Saqr (YEM)
PR3 FC Khayr (TJK) v Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Ltd. (BAN)
PR4 Hilal Alquds (PLE) v Manang Marshyangdi (NEP)
All matches to be played on February 10, 2015
PO1 Fanja (OMN) v Winner PR1
PO2 TBA (BHR) v Winner PR2
PO3 Salam Zgharta (LIB) v PR3
PO4 Al Jaish (SYR) v PR4
All matches to be played on February 17, 2015
AFC CUP 2015: Group Stage (West)
A1 Al Wehdat (JOR) - To be replaced by That Ras should Al Wehdat qualify for the ACL Group Stage.
A2 Al Nahda (OMN) - To be replaced by Suwaiq should Al Nahda qualify for the ACL Group Stage.
A3 Al Wahda (SYR)
A4 Winner PO3
B1 Al Shorta (IRQ)
B2 Al Jazeera (JOR)
B3 Wad Alness (PLE)
B4 Winner PO2
C1 Qadsia SC (KUW) - To be replaced by Al Arabi should Qadsia SC qualify for the ACL Group Stage.
C2 Arbil (IRQ)
C3 FC Istiklol (TJK)
C4 Winner PO1
D1 Riffa (BHR) - To be replaced by Manama should Riffa qualify for the ACL Group Stage.
D2 Kuwait SC (KUW)
D3 Nejmeh (LIB)
D4 Winner PO4
AFC CUP 2015: Play-off schedule (East)
PO1 Maziya Sports & Recreation (MDV) v Ceres La Salle FC (PHI)
To be played on February 17, 2015
E1 Bengaluru FC (IND)
E2 Persipura Jayapura (INA)
E3 Warriors FC (SIN) - To be replaced by Tampines Rovers should Warriors FC qualify for the ACL Group Stage.
E4 Winner PO1
F1 Kitchee (HKG) - To be replaced by Sun Pegasus should Kitchee qualify for the ACL Group Stage.
F2 East Bengal (IND)
F3 Johor Darul Ta’zim (MAS) - To be replaced by Selangor should Johor Darul Ta’zim qualify for the ACL Group Stage.
F4 Balestier Khalsa (SIN)
G1 Yadanarbon (MYA) - To be replaced by Yangon United should Yadanarbon qualify for the ACL Group Stage.
G2 South China (HKG)
G3 Global FC (PHI)
G4 Pahang FA (MAS)
H1 Persib Bandung (INA) - *To be replaced by Arema Indonesia should Persib Bandung* qualify for the ACL Group Stage.
H2 Ayeyawady United (MYA)
H3 Lao FC (LAO)
H4 New Radiant SC (MDV)