Hammadi Ahmad hands Air Force advantage in West Zone final

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Hammadi Ahmad emerged as the match-winner in the first leg of the AFC Cup West Zone final as Air Force Club beat Al Jazeera 1-0 on Tuesday.

The result now leaves Air Force – who have won the tournament in the past two seasons – in the driving seat to reach the AFC Cup final, although they will have to get the job done in the second leg on home soil on October 2.

Still, despite their status as defending champions, Al Quwa Al Jawiya did find the going tough at the Amman International Stadium against an Al Jazeera side they had already met twice earlier in the campaign, with both those games ending in draws.

Emad Mohsin looks to drive Air Force Club forward.

Emad Mohsin issued the first warning shot for the visitors after seven minutes when a speculative 20-yard attempt was inches wide of the post, before Hammadi had a decent opening two minutes before the half-hour mark but lashed a shot into the side-netting after being slipped in by Ibrahim Bayesh.

Al Jazeera skipper Ahmed Samir helping out with the defensive work.

But, in the 64th minute, the breakthrough finally arrived when Hammadi received a neat pass from Mohammed Ali Abbood and – with his back to goal – cleverly turned inside his marker to create a yard of space to clinically guide a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

The onus was now on the hosts to find a way back into the contest and they did show plenty of endeavour in pushing forward as the game entered its closing stages.

With six minutes remaining, captain Ahmed Samir could have emerged as the saviour when he lined up a freekick on the edge of the box and unleashed a dipping effort.

However, the shot was fairly central and Air Force goalkeeper Fahad Talib was perfectly positioned to tip it over and preserve his side’s advantage ahead of the return encounter in a fortnight’s time.

AL JAZEERA: Ahmad Abdel-Sattar, Feras Shelbaieh, Fadi Al-Natour, Yazan Abu Arab, Omar Al-Manasrah (Mohamad Awata 83’), Nour Al-Rawabdeh, Mohammad Tannous, Mahmoud Al-Mardi (Mouaiad Al-Ajjan 77’), Ahmed Samir, Islam Batran (Ahmed Al-Essawi 70’), Abdullah Al-Attar.

AIR FORCE CLUB: Fahad Talib, Sameh Saeed, Ahmed Abdul-Ridha, Ali Bahjat, Mustafa Mohammed, Ibrahim Bayesh, Zahir Al-Medani, Mohammed Ali Abbood, Ali Husni (Amjad Radhi 79’), Emad Mohsin (Karar Nabeel 87’), Hammadi Ahmad (Ali Yousif 72’).