Kuala Lumpur: With the West Asia Zone of the 2021 AFC Cup set to kick off on Friday, the-AFC.com reflects on some of the stand-out matches from the region's recent history.
Since 2017, the AFC Cup has been regionalised into a Zonal system and, to celebrate the fifth edition of the competition's restructure, we look back at the last four tournaments and highlight one memorable match from each year of the West Zone ahead of its return on May 21.
Kuala Lumpur: The West Asia side of the AFC Cup has provided many moments of magic and stunning strikes to savour and, with the 2021 campaign kicking off on Friday, we review some of the best.
From terrific team goals to amazing acrobatics and fantastic free-kicks, the West Asian clubs have more than contributed their share of memorable AFC Cup highlights.
The-AFC.com turns the clock back to recollect five outstanding entries to the competition's collection ahead of the 2021 AFC Cup's West Zone kick-off on May 21. Don't forget to vote for your favourite at the bottom of the article!
Preview - Group F: Alay’s Yusupov seeking honourable AFC Cup exit against Khujand
Dushanbe: FC Alay head coach Numondzhon Yusupov has urged his team to make an “honourable” AFC Cup departure when they face Tajikistan’s FC Khujand in their final Group F match on Thursday.
Without a win between them so far in the competition, neither side can advance beyond the group stage, but ample motivation exists in both camps to end their respective continental campaigns on a high.
For Alay, that means building on a much-improved second-half performance in Monday’s match against Altyn Asyr, where they chased down a 4-1 deficit to draw level in the dying minutes, only to lose the match to an injury time penalty.
Preview - Group F: Knockout stage on the line as Nasaf face Altyn Asyr in AFC Cup’s 'mini final'
Dushanbe: Ruzikul Berdiev’s side need only a draw to qualify for the 2021 AFC Cup Zonal finals, but the FC Nasaf boss will be instructing his players to aim solely for victory when they face Altyn Asyr FC on Thursday.
The two sides will clash in the decisive match in Group F, with Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr capable of leapfrogging their opponents into top spot with a win on the final Matchday at Republican Central Stadium.
With seven unanswered goals and the maximum six points from their two earlier matches, 2011 champions Nasaf come into the decider as favourites to advance, but Berdiev insists nothing will be taken for granted against the Yokary Liga champions.
Preview - Group E: Dordoi, Ravshan playing for pride in AFC Cup send-off
Bishkek: Both sides are out of knockout stage contention, but FC Dordoi and FC Ravshan will be equally motivated to finish their participation in the 2021 AFC Cup on a high when they meet at Dolen Omurzakov Stadium on Thursday.
Eliminated by their respective defeats to Turkmenistan’s Ahal FC, the two sides will fight to avoid last place in the three-team Group E, with both coaches clear about the importance of leaving the tournament with three points.
Kuala Lumpur: Al Ahed FC created history in 2019 as they became the first side from Lebanon to lift the AFC Cup after seeing off DPR Korea's 4.25 SC 1-0 in the final.
Issah Yakubu stole the headlines when he headed home with just over 15 minutes to play, but this was a triumph built first and foremost by solidarity throughout. The Beirut side conceded just three goals in a campaign in which they were almost impenetrable at the back.
Led by established Lebanese internationals such as captain Haytham Faour and goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil, as well as skillful forward players Mohamed Haider and Ahmed Zreik, there was no shortage of talent in Bassem Marmar's all-conquering side.
As Al Ahed prepare to kick off their 2021 AFC Cup group stage on May 24, the-AFC.com looks back at a success that will live long in the memory.
Shomurodov, Bala Devi and four Japanese stars: Vote for your AFC International Player of the Week!
Kuala Lumpur: Super subs, long-range wondergoals and relegation-defying late winners were all on the menu as Asia’s overseas stars enjoyed another bumper week outside of the continent.
Eldor Shomurodov and Maya Yoshida starred in Italy, while Takefusa Kubo made a major impact in Spain and women’s stars from Asia’s two most popular countries made memorable contributions on opposite sides of the globe.
But who deserves this week’s crown? Study our shortlist – based on performances from May 12 to 18 – and cast your vote.