Preview - Group J: Lee Man (HKG) v Eastern Long Lions (HKG)
Buriram: Lee Man head coach Chan Hiu-ming believes his side’s playoff win over Mongolia’s Athletic 220 will give them the edge when they take on fellow Hong Kong Premier League side Eastern Long Lions in the opening game in Group J of the AFC Cup™ 2022 in Buriram on Friday.
Both sides have struggled to prepare for the competition due to restrictions put in place in Hong Kong to combat a serious COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, which saw the league suspended and teams unable to train as a result.
The shutdown means neither side has been able to play competitively in their domestic league since January, but Lee Man were able to hand Athletic 220 a 2-1 defeat in the preliminaries in April and Chan thinks that could be the enough to give his side an advantage in Friday’s showdown.
Preview - Group E: Altyn Asyr FC (TKM) v FC CSKA (TJK)
Dushanbe: The match between Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr FC and FC CSKA of Tajikistan is set to be a thriller as both teams look kick off their AFC Cup™ 2022 Group E campaigns on a winning note on Friday.
Altyn Asyr are no strangers to the tournament, having made five previous appearances and reaching the 2018 AFC Cup final, but head coach Yazguly Hojageldiyev will be taking it one match at a time.
Preview - Group E: PFC Sogdiana (UZB) v PFC Neftchi (KGZ)
Dushanbe: Uzbekistan’s PFC Sogdiana and PFC Nefchi of Kyrgyz Republic may be making their AFC Cup™ debuts, but both head coaches are intent on making an explosive start to their respective Group E campaigns on Friday.
Sogdiana head coach Ulugbek Bakaev values the significance of playing at the continental level, and wants a good performance to showcase Uzbekistan football as they kick off the Central Zone action at the Republican Central Stadium.
Preview - Group F: Kopetdag FC (TKM) v FC Khujand (TJK)
Bishkek: FC Khujand forward Jahongir Ergashev will shift his focus to helping his side claim three points against debutants Kopetdag FC of Turkmenistan when they meet in their AFC Cup™ 2022 Group F encounter at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium on Friday.
Ergashev, who has 35 caps for Tajikistan, was excluded from national duties at the recent AFC Asian Cup 2023™ Qualifiers Final Round where his team secured a historic place among Asia’s leading 24 teams.
Preview - Group G: Bali United FC (IDN) v Kedah Darul Aman (MAS)
Denpasar: Bali United FC head coach Stefano Cugurra is hoping home support can spur his side on in the AFC Cup™ 2022 when the Indonesian champions open their Group G campaign against Malaysia’s Kedah Darul Aman on Friday.
The Liga 1 champions in 2019 and 2021 are making their third appearance in the continental competition having debuted in 2018 and then being part of the group stage that started but was never completed due to COVID-19 two years later.
Preview - Group G: Kaya FC-Iloilo (PHI) v Visakha FC (CAM)
Denpasar: Kaya FC-Iloilo and Visakha FC are both determined to hit the ground running when they kick off their AFC Cup™ 2022 Group G campaigns at Stadion Kapten I Wayan Dipta on Friday.
Kaya are returning to the AFC Cup for the fourth time after featuring in the AFC Champions League™ 2021, while Visakha are set to make their continental debut.
Kaya coach Yu Hoshide believes the experience that the Filipino club gained from featuring in the Asia’s premier club competition, despite failing to pick up a point, will have put them in good stead for this year’s AFC Cup.
Preview - Group I: Hougang United (SGP) v Phnom Penh Crown FC (CAM)
Ho Chi Minh City: A well prepared Hougang United believe they have a fair chance of advancing from Group I of the AFC Cup™ 2022 which kicks off in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday.
The Singaporean side open their campaign against Cambodia's Phnom Penh Crown FC and head coach Clement Teo wants the best from his side in their second AFC Cup appearance, having not advanced past the group stage previously.
Preview - Group I: Viettel FC (VIE) v Young Elephants FC (LAO)
Ho Chi Minh City: Viettel FC are expecting only a win when they open their AFC Cup™ 2022 Group I campaign against Young Elephants FC on Friday.
Despite playing in Ho Chi Minh City, the Hanoi-based Vietnamese side will have 'home ground' advantage against their opponents from Laos and coach Bae Ji-won has urged them to maximise the opportunity as the ASEAN Zone of the AFC Cup returns after two years.