Kuala Lumpur: There are just five days to go until the 2019 AFC Cup returns with the two-legged Inter-Zone semi-finals, and the sides now just four matches away from November’s final.
The games see Vietnam’s Hanoi FC up against Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr and Abahani Limited Dhaka of Bangladesh face DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC as the Zonal champions from the ASEAN, Central, South and East square off.
With this Inter-Zone format only in its third year since the AFC Cup was remodelled, the-AFC.com looks back at the four previous match-ups from this stage of the Continental competition.
Kuala Lumpur: As the 2019 AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semi-finals draw ever closer, the-AFC.come looks at some of the key stats and facts involving the four teams involved.
The clashes see ASEAN kings Hanoi FC of Vietnam take on Central Zonal champions Altyn Asyr of Turkmenistan and South Zonal champions Abahani Limited Dhaka go up against their East Zone counterparts 4.25 SC of DPR Korea over two legs.
The reward for the winners is a place in the Inter-Zone Final, meaning the stakes are high ahead of the first legs on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Ashgabat: Reigning league champions Altyn Asyr FC have added another trophy to their growing collection, overcoming city rivals Köpetdag Ashgabat 2-0 to win the Turkmenistan Super Cup on Saturday.
The trophy, a play-off bringing together the country’s defending league and cup champions from the previous season, has now been won five successive times by Altyn Asyr, who are chasing a sixth successive Yokary Liga title this season.
Head coach Lemos ecstatic after Abahani’s historic win
Guwahati: Sporting a beaming smile after his team’s win over Minerva Punjab which sealed top spot in Group E on Wednesday, Abahani Limited Dhaka coach Mario Lemos expressed his delight on his team’s progression to the 2019 AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semi-Finals.
Sitting alongside Masih Saighani, who scored a stoppage-time goal to help the side seal a 1-0 result, the Portuguese labeled the win as massive for Bangladesh football.
Questioned about emotions in the dugout after Saighani’s goal, Lemos said “It was big because Chennaiyin were winning and if we had drawn this game, we would be out. So, it’s massive for the club as well as the country to qualify for the first time.”
Hanoi: Goalkeeper Nguyen Van Cong has admitted that Hanoi FC are now dreaming of winning the 2019 AFC Cup after Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over Becamex Binh Duong saw them crowned ASEAN Zonal Champions and book an Inter-Zone semi-final date against Turkmenistan's Altyn Asyr.
The capital city side went into the all-Vietnamese clash at Hang Day Stadium with a 1-0 advantage following last week’s first leg and, after a tight first half which Hanoi shaded, the hosts broke the deadlock just after the hour when top scorer Pape Omar Faye notched his eighth goal of the campaign.
With Binh Duong needing to score twice, Hanoi could breath a little easier and they could have added to their tally, with Nguyen Quang Hai, Ngan Van Dai and Pape Kebe all missing chances as the home side comfortably saw out the closing stages.
Analysis: Hanoi show class at both ends to advance
Hanoi: Hanoi FC were crowned the 2019 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions on Wednesday after a 1-0 victory over Vietnam rivals Becamex Binh Duong saw them progress to the Inter-Zone semi-finals 2-0 on aggregate.
But while a league win sandwiched in between the two Continental games made it three victories in eight days over Binh Duong and suggests a comfortable passage to the next round, the capital city side did not have it all their own way.