AFC Cup West Zone wrap: Defending champs Air Force Club held in opener

Iraq’s Air Force Club began the defence of their AFC Cup title in somewhat muted fashion after holding Lebanon’s Safa to a goalless draw at Saida Municipal Stadium.

GROUP B: SAFA 0-0 AIR FORCE CLUB

There was little action to speak of in the first half, but the defending champions nearly took the lead via very unconventional means on the hour mark.

Air Force Club goalkeeper Fahad Talib’s long kick up bounced all the way up the field and over the head of his opposite number, with only the crossbar coming to the rescue for Safa.

Talla Ndiaye had a goal ruled out for offside down the other end not long after, and the bar came to the rescue again for the hosts when substitute Thamer Barghash headed against the woodwork in the final 10 minutes.

GROUP A: AL JAISH 1-0 AL AHLI

Inaugural AFC Cup champions Al Jaish of Syria started their latest bid for continental glory with a solid 1-0 win over Jordan’s Al Ahli in their Group A opener.

Mohammad Hamdkou was the hero for his side, scoring the decisive goal via a header from close range shortly before the half-hour mark.

Marcus Macauley came close to returning the favour for the visitors not long after, but his headed effort hit the crossbar.

Al Ahli midfielder Saleem Obaid was red-carded 18 minutes from time, effectively ending his side’s hope of restoring parity.

GROUP B: AL HIDD 0-1 AL WAHDA

AFC Cup 2017 Al Wahda

Al Wahda of Syria started their 2017 campaign brightly with a 1-0 win over Bahrain’s Al Hidd in Group B.

The deadlock between the two sides was broken five minutes before half-time by Osama Omari.

A cross from the left was not adequately dealt with by the Al Hidd defence, allowing Omari to collect the loose ball and score via a deflection off Embrahim Al Obaidli.

That goal proved to be enough to collect all three points.

GROUP A: AL ZAWRAA 0-0 AL SUWAIQ

Oman’s Al Suwaiq and Al Zawraa of Iraq settled for a share of the points as they played out to a 0-0 draw in their Group A opener.

The hosts would have been confident of victory, having beaten Al Suwaiq in both their home and away meetings last year, but on this occasion there was no way past the Omani side.

Al Zawraa striker Musafa Kareem had two solid chances to break the deadlock during the second half – one right at the start of the half and another right at the death – but failed to convert either of them.

Comments