AFC Champions League 2019 West Zone: IR Iran’s Zobahan the surprise package; Al Hilal returning to their best?

AFC Champions League

With the AFC Champions League 2019 entering its business end, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the teams impressing in the four groups in the West Zone of the continental championship. 

ACL 2019 is back this week with 12 games taking place across eight groups. And this time, we turn our attention to the happenings in the West Zone — Group A, B and C and D.

Group A of the AFC Champions League has witnessed the surprise package of this season’s competition in IR Iran’s Zobahan FC. The Crocodiles joined the competition in the second preliminary round where they edged past Al Kuwait SC after extra time.

Who’s impressing in the West after three rounds of ACL2019?

They were a doubt to even make the group stages after going down 2-0 to Qatar’s Al Gharafa in the play-off. However, a spirited comeback in the second half saw them book a place in the tournament proper.

And they have continued their fine form in the group stages winning two and drawing one of their first three games. They top Group A with seven points, three points ahead of Iraq’s Al Zawraa, and look set to make their first knockout appearance since 2016.

In Group B, things are very difficult to call as UAE Pro League side Al Wahda and Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad are both on six points while Qatar’s Al Rayyan and Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv Tashkent have three points apiece.

Group C which was touted as the Group of Death by many at the start of the campaign has lived up to the billing and it is Saudi’s Al Hilal who lead the proceedings at the moment with six points.

Former Lyon and Swansea City forward Bafetimbi Gomis has fired for Al Hilal this season and with the likes of Sebastian Giovinco and Milos Degenek in their ranks, the Saudis should be considered strong contenders for the ACL.

With a number of players who impressed at the AFC Asian Cup 2019, Qatar’s Al Sadd SC and Iran’s Persepolis were expected to dominate Group D. But it is Uzbek club Pakhtakor Tashkent who are on top with five points while Al Sadd and Persepolis are second and third with four points apiece.

With the second half of the ACL 2019 beginning this week, the West Zone one again looks like a closely-contested affair across all four groups. And all eyes will be trained on the action as it unfolds in the coming few weeks.

 

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