AFC Cup 2017 Roundup: Defending champions Air Force Club qualify for zonal playoffs

Air Force Club celebrate
The west zone playoffs for the AFC Cup 2017 took shape on Tuesday as the defending champions booked their passage..

With Groups A, B and H of the AFC Cup 2017 coming to a conclusion on Tuesday, there were several interesting matches and of course, goals rained down upon us. Here is a recap of all that happened: - 


AL JAISH 1-2 AL SUWAIQ [Anizan 55' - Diagne 69' Kipre 73']

Al Jaish, seeking to leapfrog Al Zawra'a and win Group A, were left reeling after they were upset 2-1 by bottom-placed Al Suwaiq on Tuesday. 

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After a barren first half in Doha, Syria's Al Jaish seemed set for at least a best second-placed finish when Abdul Malik Al Anizan's deflected shot from outside the area nestled in the back of the Al Suwaiq goal. But the Omani side had other ideas and turned things around in the matter of four fateful minutes. Mamdou Diagne brought Al Suwaiq level after he headed a corner into the roof of the net in the 69th minute. Four minutes later, Tchetche Kipre controlled a pass inside the area and blasted a finish into the net to end Al Jaish's hopes of progression. 

AFC Cup: Al Wehdat wins Group C

The result was Al Suwaiq's first win of the tournament but it was not enough to lift them off the bottom of the group. 

AL ZAWRA'A 1-1 AL AHLI (JOR) [Zahra 90+2' - Al Essawi 5']

Al Zawra

Iraq's Al Zawra'a won Group A with 12 points from six games and in the end did not require the point they gained on Tuesday from their 1-1 draw with Al Ahli, following Al Jaish's defeat to AL Suwaiq. 

It seemed like Al Zawra'a could be pipped to the top spot when Ahmed Al Essawi guided home a finish after splendid work on the wings by Yazan Thalji. A shocked Al Zawra'a set about finding an equaliser but the rest of the half was a tale of chances spurned. Mustafa Kareem and Abdul Zahra were profligate when presented with gilt-edged chances to score. There was more wastefulness in the second half where Sajad Raad hit the cross bar once but the Iraqis were given a late penalty to gain a draw. Abdul Zahra did not miss from the spot this time as his team finished their group stage with a point. 

Al Jaish's loss meant that a loss would not have cost Al Zawra'a who would be happy to take on defending champions Air Force Club with an undefeated record in the zonal semifinal. 


SAFA SC 0-6 AL WAHDA [Al Haj 43' Fares 45+3' Al Hasan 48' Omaru 83' Shalha 88' Habib 90+3'] 

Al Wahda celebrate

Al Wahda annihilated Safa SC 6-0 on Tuesday and won passage to the West Zone playoffs by finishing as the best second-placed team in the three West Zone groups. 

The script could have been different had Talla N'diaye converted a 14th-minute penalty Safa were awarded but Al Wahda goalkeeper Taha Mousa saved it to set the foundation for a rout. But the first goal came only in the 43rd minute when Majed Al Haj converted from close range after great work down the right wing by Shuaib Al Ali. Just before half-time, Mohammed Fares doubled the lead with a fine header. Three minutes following the restart, Mohamad Al Hasan capitalised on a terrible mix-up between Safa goalkeeper Mohamad Tafa and centre-back Standly Echabe to make it 3-0. 

After a brief lull in proceedings, goals rained down in the final 10 minutes. Osama Omari, Abdulhadi Shalha, and Qussai Habib all scored in the final minutes to complete the rout. The win took the to 11 points from six games and was enough to see them through to the next stage, where they will take on Jordan's Al Wehdat. 

AL HIDD 0-1 AIR FORCE CLUB [Radhi 70']

Air Force Club vs Al Hidd

Defending champions Air Force Club downed Al Hidd 1-0 away to win Group B on Tuesday and secure a spot in the West Zone playoffs. 

The match was tightly contested, to begin with, with neither team ready to give the other a quarter. The first-half finished 0-0 though Al Hidd striker Abdulwahab Al Malood came close when he struck the post. In the second half, Al Hidd continued to threaten and fashioned several chances only to waste them before the defending champions struck the killer blow. In the 70th minute, Bashar Resan was released down the right and he stood a cross up to the far post where Amjed Radhi, who had just come on, leapt high and headed home. 

The result saw Air Force Club win the group with 12 points while Al Hidd had to contend themselves with third place. 


YADANARBON 0-3 THAN QUANG NINH [Myo Aung (OG) 38' Khoa 56' Huy 73']

Vietnamese side Than Quang Ninh secured the second position in the three-team Group H at the expense of Myanmar's Yadanarbon after defeating them 3-0 in Mandalay on Tuesday. 

The group had already been won by Singapore's Home United but the victor could have staked their claim for passage to the playoffs as the best second-placed team. It was the away team who were gifted the lead in the 38th minute following an own goal by Yadanarbon defender Nay Myo Aung. His attempted header back to the goalkeeper following the breakdown of a Than Quang Ning move was ill-advised and found the back of the net. 11 minutes after the break, the lead was doubled, thanks to Van Khoa's spectacular freekick from a tight angle down the right wing. 

In the 73rd minute, substitute Hai Huy made it 3-0 with a fine solo effort after a neat one-two with Xuan Tu. The result means Yadanarbon and Than Quang Ninh have four points each but the latter secured the second place. It remains to be seen whether it will be enough to see them progress to the playoffs.