2021 AFC Cup - West Zonal Final Preview: Muharraq, Kuwait SC seek return to glory days
Arad: All eyes iturn to Muharraq Stadium on Wednesday night as three-time champions Kuwait SC face home side Muharraq Club in the 2021 AFC Cup West Zonal Final, with the winners booking a place in the competition’s showpiece final next month.
Both sides will be looking to revive past glories, with Muharraq having won the AFC Cup in 2006 and finishingrunners-up in 2008. Meanwhile, Kuwait SC enjoyed the best spell in the club’s history between 2009 and 2013, winning three AFC Cup titles in that period and losing a final.
Despite their illustrious history in the competition, the two clubs have never played each other on the continental front, their only meeting coming two decades ago in the regional GCC Club Championship, with Muharraq winning 2-0.
Arad: Five months on since both sides started their journey in the 2021 AFC Cup, only one of Muharraq Club and Kuwait SC will make it to the final as they lock horns in the West Zonal Final on Wednesday.
It has already been quite a journey for both sides as they march towards a return to continental glory. the-AFC.com looks at how the two teams made it this far in the 2021 AFC Cup.
2021 AFC Cup West Zonal Final - The Contenders' History
Arad: Wednesday night sees two of the most successful sides in AFC Cup history go head-to-head as Muharraq Club of Bahrain host Kuwait SC in the West Zonal Final with a place in the 2021 AFC Cup Final at stake.
Both sides were at their best in the first decade following the inception of the AFC Cup in 2004 and have since come across difficult times, with the 2021 edition offering both an opportunity to regain past glories. the-AFC.com looks at the highlights of Kuwait SC and Muharraq Club’s AFC Cup history.
Nasaf v Lee Man – Six players who could make the difference in AFC Cup Inter-Zone Final
Karshi: Just 90 minutes stand between FC Nasaf, Lee Man FC and a shot at Asian football immortality, giving both sets of players a rare opportunity to shine on the continent’s biggest stages.
Uzbekistan Super League runners-up Nasaf will welcome Hong Kong’s Lee Man with a place in next month’s final awaiting the winners, and both sides are equipped with potential match-winners who can turn a game at their whim.
Ahead of one of the biggest club fixtures on the calendar, we’ve picked out six players – three from each team – who possess the ability to make a major impact on Wednesday’s Inter-Zone final.
Lee Man ready to create AFC Cup miracle, says Ngan Lok Fung
Karshi: Lee Man captain Ngan Lok Fung believes the Hong Kong Premier League side have nothing to lose and all to gain when they take on Uzbekistan's FC Nasaf in Wednesday's AFC Cup Inter-Zone Final.
Their hosts at Karshi's Markaziy Stadion are a daunting prospect with the 2011 winners having roared into the penultimate tie of the 2021 edition via a comprehensive 6-0 win in the Inter-Zone semi-final against India's ATK Mohun Bagan.
But for Lee Man's swashbuckling skipper, who was named in the 2020-2021 Hong Kong Premier League's Best XI after leading his side to an impressive third-place finish last season, the chance for an historic upset is one to savour.
Chan: Mental strength and team spirit Lee Man's strongest weapons in AFC Cup Inter-Zone Final
Karshi: Chan Hiu Ming believes Hong Kong side Lee Man FC have already made history by reaching the 2021 AFC Cup Inter-Zone Final, but the head coach is still hoping to cause a major upset when his team face Uzbekistan's FC Nasaf on Wednesday.
It appears a mismatch on paper with FC Nasaf, founded in 1986, boasting a rich domestic and continental history that includes an AFC Cup title, multiple campaigns in the AFC Champions League and a semi-final appearance at the 2002 Asian Club Championship facing off against a Lee Man a side who came together in 2017.
Nevertheless, these two vastly contrasting clubs have reached the penultimate stage of the 2021 AFC Cup. Ahead of the clash with the 2011 winners at Markaziy Stadion, the-AFC.com spoke with the 46-year-old Chan, a former Macau national team coach, about his side's chances of continental glory.
Semi-final Preview: Al Nassr, Al Hilal set for enthralling derby
Riyadh: An enticing Saudi Arabian derby awaits as Al Hilal SFC face cross-city rivals Al Nassr at King Saud University Stadium on Tuesday in the bid for a spot in the 2021 AFC Champions League final.
This is a match-up of several seconds: The second all-Saudi semi-final, the first coming in the 2012 AFC Champions League edition, when two-time champions Al Ittihad faced Jeddah rivals Al Ahli FC Saudi. It is also Al Nassr’s second semi-final in a row, losing last time out on penalties to Persepolis.
Hong applauds Ulsan Hyundai players for staying strong against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Jeonju: Ulsan Hyundai head coach Hong Myung-bo saluted his players’ never-say-die attitude as the holders’ defence of their AFC Champions League title continues into the semi-finals following their 3-2 win after extra-time against fellow K League 1 side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Sunday.
The Horangi took the lead on three separate occasions over the 120 minutes of play at Jeonju World Cup Stadium, but first half goals from Valeri Qazaishvili and Yun Il-lok were each time cancelled out by their opponents as Han Kyo-won and Takahiro Kunimoto responded.
However, there was to be no answer for a stunning strike from substitute Lee Dong-gyeong in extra-time that ultimately settled matters as Ulsan took a step towards becoming the first team to retain the continental title since Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad in 2005.
Proud Kim praises Pohang Steelers after masterclass against Nagoya Grampus
Jeonju: Pohang Steelers head coach Kim Gi-dong spoke of his immense pride in his team after the K League 1 side defeated Japan’s Nagoya Grampus 3-0 to reach the AFC Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2009 at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on Sunday.
The Steelers weathered a storm from the J League side in the first half, but after the break Kim’s charges were in command as a brace from Lim Sang-hyub and a goal from Lee Seung-mo saw the red-and-black clad men into the last four.