Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
The quarter-finals of the 2016 AFC Cup will feature both the defending champions and the inaugural tournament winners as Johor Darul Ta’zim and Al Jaish emerged victorious from their respective Round of 16 fixtures on Wednesday, albeit in very different circumstances.
JDT, who made history last year when they defeated FC Istiklol to become the first East Asian club to win the continental competition, showed their championship credentials as they hammered debutants Kaya FC from the Philippines 7-2, with Argentine attacker Juan Martin Lucero helping himself to a hat-trick in the Malaysian champions’ emphatic victory.
Al Jaish’s progress to the last eight was not so straightforward with the 2004 champions needing Mohammad Hamadko’s 78th minute strike to see off the challenge of Iraq’s Nafit Al Wasat (pictured), while it was an even closer call for 2008 champions Al Muharraq as substitute Elias struck with nine minutes at the Bahrain National Stadium remaining to eliminate two-time AFC Cup winners Al Faisaly.
Jordan’s hopes of seeing the trophy held by a club from the Hashemite Kingdom for a record-equalling fourth time had suffered a blow a day earlier when three-time semi-finalists Al Wehdat bowed out following a 2-1 defeat to Iraq’s Air Force Club, as Hammadi Ahmed extended his lead at the top of the scoring charts with his 12th of the campaign.
Syria had also been scuppered in their efforts to have two representatives in the quarter-finals as Al Wahda - runners-up to compatriots Al Jaish in the first ever AFC Cup final - conceded three times in the final 15 minutes of their Round of 16 clash with Lebanon’s Al Ahed.
While Al Ahed emerged with quite a comprehensive winning margin, Tuesday’s other encounters were altogether tighter affairs as South China and Tampines Rovers took their place in the last eight with narrow one-goal victories, which were only secured after extra time.
South China had to wait 107 minutes for Jose Ricardo Rambo’s side to draw first blood against Ceres La Salle with compatriot Luiz Carlos’ goal sufficient to give the 2009 semi-finalists a 1-0 win in the Philippines, while Afiq Younos was the hero for the Stags as the defender’s winner with just four minutes of extra-time remaining saw the Singaporean side advance with a 2-1 victory over Mohun Bagan in India.
Mohun’s I-League rivals JSW Bengaluru, meanwhile, ensured India would be represented in the quarter-finals of this season’s AFC Cup after 18-year-old Daniel Lalhlimpuia struck the winner as the two-time national champions edged Kitchee in a five-goal thriller in Hong Kong
2016 AFC Cup quarter-finalists at a glance
AIR FORCE CLUB (IRQ) - defeated Al Wehdat 2-1
AL AHED (LIB) - defeated Al Wahda 4-0
AL JAISH (SYR) - defeated Nafit Al Wasat 1-0
Al MUHARRAQ (BHR) - defeated Al Faisaly 1-0
JOHOR DARUL TA’ZIM (MAS) - defeated Kaya FC 7-2
JSW BENGALURU (IND) - defeated Kitchee 3-2
SOUTH CHINA (HKG) - defeated Ceres La Salle 1-0 after extra time
TAMPINES ROVERS (SIN) - defeated Mohun Bagan 2-1 after extra time
Click here for links to the reports, reaction, and video highlights from the 2016 AFC Cup Round of 16 matches
Photo: Lagardère Sports