Air Force Club’s passage through to the next phase of the 2017 AFC Cup was secured on Tuesday evening as the Iraqi outfit produced a 1-0 win over Bahrain’s Al Hidd.
The Air Force Club finished Group B with 12 points, one point ahead of runners-up Al Whada.
As many predicted, Al Whada thrashed Safa 6-0 so it was imperative that Air Force produced a good performance.
And they did just that.
However, like the score line suggests, it was no straightforward encounter for the defending champions.
They got off to a sluggish start and failed to create many opportunities in the first half. When they did get looks at goal, their attackers were hasty and snatched at their shots.
The winner came with just 19 minutes remaining.
Amjed Rahdi’s close range header following a cross from Bashar Rasan sparked wild celebrations amongst the Air Force Club players and their small band of travelling fans.
The 2016 AFC Cup champions showed their winning spirit as they closed out the crucial fixture in clinical fashion, hardly allowing Al Hidd to get sight of their goal in the final 20 minutes.
All the other results from the final round of group fixtures in the West Zone of the AFC Cup can be seen below:
Al Zawraa (IRQ) 1-1 Al Ahli (JOR) – Al Zawraa through to Zonal Semi-finals
Al Jaish (SYR) 1-2 Al Suwaiq (OMA)
Al Hidd (BHR) 0-1 Air Force Club (IRQ) – Air Force Club through to Zonal Semi-finals
Safa SC (LIB) 0-6 Al Wahda (SYR) – Al Wahda through to Zonal Semi-finals
Al Wehdat (JOR) 3-2 Al Muharraq (BHR) – Al Wehdat through to Zonal Semi-finals
Saham Club (OMA) 3-1 Nejmeh SC (LIB)