East Asia & ASEAN Wrap: Iniesta returns in Vissel triumph; Persib keep title race alive
Hong Kong: Spain and Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta made his first appearance of the season in Japan as Vissel Kobe posted their first win in the 2023 J.League Cup, edging Yokohama FC 1-0 on Sunday while defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of on-fire Nagoya Grampus.
In Indonesia, hard-earned victories against Dewa United and Bhayangkara FC during the week saw chasing Persib Bandung reduce the deficit to league leaders PSM Makassar to 10 points and keep the title race alive for at least another matchday.
Cebu FC are within touching distance of leaders Kaya FC-Iloilo following their 1-0 win over Mendiola FC 1991 in the Philippines on Saturday while there were also matches taking place in Malaysia and Macau, so join the-AFC.com as we review the week’s action from across East Asia and ASEAN.
Patttaya: Takuya Akaguma emerged the AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup™ Thailand 2023 Top Scorer as the tournament came to a conclusion on Sunday.
Although Akaguma did not score in the final as Japan fell to a 6-0 defeat, his 11 goals played a key role in taking the East Asian side into the decider and also book a place in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup UAE 2023.
Wellington: China PR slipped to a 2-1 defeat against New Zealand in Wellington on Sunday despite seeing goalkeeper Yan Junling save a first-half penalty from Alex Grieve.
An own goal from Zhu Chenjie three minutes before half time put the All Whites in front and Matthew Garbett added a second in the 82nd minute before the Chinese claimed a late consolation through Ba Dun’s injury time header.
Dubai: Syria registered their first-ever win against Thailand, marching to a 3-1 victory at Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium as head coach Hector Cuper’s reign in charge of the Eagles of Qasioun started on a positive note in Dubai on Saturday.
Not too far in Abu Dhabi, the UAE were held to a goalless draw by Tajikistan while Bahrain were beaten 2-1 at home by Palestine and Mongolia’s first-ever encounter against European opponents ended in a 6-1 defeat in Georgia.
Indonesia emerged 3-1 winners against Burundi in Bekasi while Bangladesh defeated Seychelles 1-0 and Laos edged Bhutan 2-1 in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.
Chencho: RG Punjab's I-League title-winning team can do anything in the ISL
Panchkula: RoundGlass Punjab FC created history by lifting the 2022-23 I-League title and in the process became the first-ever club to achieve promotion to the Indian Super League (ISL).
However, it was never going to be a simple task and playing catch up to title rivals Sreenidi Deccan FC at the start of the year, the side from Punjab brought back one of their familiar faces in the form of Chencho Gyeltshen to help them claim pole position and reach the promised land.