Have a little look. Thursday is upon us and it’s my duty to bring you up to date with all that’s been going on in the AFC Cup. We are looking at Al Jazeera vs Al Faisaly, Home United vs Persija, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya vs Al Ahed and Ceres vs Yangon United.

Monday Saw A Missed Al Faisaly Opportunity

It starts off relatively low-key as an all Jordanian tie between Al Jazeera and Al Faisaly didn’t really set the world alight. If you had read my preview for the game, the draw was always the most likely of outcomes.

A sensational burst of pace from Musa Al-Taamari meant that he got in behind the Al-Faisaly back line, but he still had an awful lot of work to do. His ball control was superb and he eventually found himself one-on-one with Moataz Yaseen. Yaseen had to do better. There are no two ways about it. Al-Taamari slid the ball under him and the ‘home’ side had the lead.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve used inverted commas there because they both play at the same ground, so home advantage doesn’t really count. As far as advantages go, Al Jazeera may well have had a goal advantage, but Al Faisaly were the ones with a man advantage after Mardik Mardikian was shown a straight red for a crude elbow.

Al Jazeera Had Ten Men For Over An Hour

At this point we hadn’t even hit the half an hour mark, meaning that Al Faisaly were now the favourites despite being a goal down. Al Faisaly should have levelled when Mahmoud Al-Mardi was afforded all the time in the world in the box, somehow, he headed over. Shite.

Al Jazeera clearly didn’t learn their lesson as exactly the same scenario played out just before halftime. This time, Lukasz Gikiewicz was on the end of it and he made no mistake. 1-1. Halftime.

After the interval, understandably, Al Faisaly dominated and only some valiant defending and goalkeeping alike kept Al Jazeera in the game. Ahmad Nawwas performed admirably in goal and when he was caught out, his defence held strong as Al Faisaly couldn’t break them down.

Final score: Al Jazeera 1-1 Al Faisaly.

Home United hosted Persija in Tuesday’s first game in a game which was difficult to call for many reasons. If you were to ask one-hundred people who have any clue about Asian football, I would take the educated guess that around eighty-five would be the minimum number that would back Persija over the two legs.

Persija Will Win This

I’m firmly in the camp of backing Persija over Home United. They’re better. End of.

Of course, Home United took the lead after two minutes. A wonderful diving header from Maman Abdurrahman broke the deadlock, the only issue was it went into the wrong net. It was all about the delivery from Shahril Ishak and if Abdurrahman hadn’t headed it into his own net, there was a queue of players waiting. Great start.

Seven minutes later, Home United were in dreamland as Song Ui-Young doubled their lead with a mazy run and finish which was helped by Vava Yagalo slipping on his arse. That had happened inside ten minutes. At this rate, Home United would win 18-0.

Sadly, double figures was seemingly not on the cards as Persija got back into the game via Ramdhani Lestaluhu’s header from a Riko Simanjuntak corner which was venomously whipped in from the left. There was to be no more goals in the first-half, Home United’s dream of double figures was over before it really got going. What a liberty.

WIth Less Than Ten Minutes On The Clock, Home United Were Two-Nil Up

When the pairing of Simanjuntak and Lestaluhu combined again four points after the break in practically identical circumstances, it was 2-2. Home United were now on the back foot with over forty minutes left to play, it didn’t look good.

Sometimes, football can surprise you. That’s precisely what happened here as six minutes after coming off the bench, Hafiz Nor put Home United back in the lead. It was a speculative effort at best. Stupid at worst. Nevertheless, Rizky Darmawan made a complete hash of the shot and it ended up going beyond him.  

In the end, Home United take a slender lead to Jakarta next week and I stand by what I said, Persija will progress.

Final score: Home United 3-2 Persija.

Now, we have a hit a slight snag as Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya’s clash with Al Ahed hasn’t yielded any highlights. Poppycock is the word I’m looking for. Anyway, the long and short of it is the Iraqi team looked set to take a commanding lead into the second-leg, however, a late consolation from Al Ahed’s Mohammad Kdouh means that the tie isn’t out of total reach for the Lebanese side.

Prior to that, goals from Amjad Radhi, Hammadi Ahmad and Salih Sadir had put Al Quwa Al-Jawiya in control. I say control, the latter of the two goals were scored after the 88th-minute. Either way, Al Ahed have got a tough task ahead of them if they want to progress to the next round.

Final score: Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 3-1 Al Ahed.  

Our tale ends in the Philippines where Yangon United made the short trip to face Ceres Negros. Just so it’s fresh in your mind, remember, I said whichever talisman fared the better out of Bienve and Sylla would win the game. That’s exactly what happened. Sort of.

Bienve’s Chip Was Exquisite    

Ceres’ Bienve was the fastest out of the blocks as he put the home side in the ascendancy with a divine goal. There’s no other word to describe it; divine. He sprung Yangon’s offside trap and it looked like he still had a lot to do. He then performed a deft chip over the keeper that nobody else in the stadium would have seen coming. Take a bow, Bienve, take a bow.

Not even five minutes had been and gone before Ceres multiplied their tally by two as Patrick Reichelt was the quickest to react after a brilliant Sann Sat Naing save. Yangon appealed for offside but it fell on deaf ears.

Things went from bad to worse for the Myanmar side before halftime as Bienve scored his second and Ceres’ third as he was in the right place at the right time following a melee in the penalty area.

Sylla’s Wasn’t Too Shabby, Either

With forty-five minutes left on the clock, the onus was on Yangon and they drew first blood as Sekou Sylla (who else?) got them a goal. He picked the ball up in the penalty area and found the top corner with ease. Sublime. Not as good as Bienve’s first, impressive all the same.

Instead of pushing on and getting another, Yangon allowed Ceres to restore their three-goal advantage as Super headed in from a corner. Sometimes the headlines write themselves. Super.

An almighty goalmouth scramble resulted in the last goal of the game and incidentally, the last of the round-up. Sylla made sure he and Bienve could still not be separated goal-wise as he put the ball into the roof of the net with seven minutes left.

Yangon will progress with a 2-0 in Myanmar. Is it going to happen? I doubt it. Only time will tell, I guess!

Final score: Ceres Negros 4-2 Yangon United.

Home wins ended up being the flavour of the week in the AFC Cup and you can see that happening again in the reverse fixtures. From this position, I’m going to take a guess and say that Al Jazeera, Persija, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya & Ceres will all progress. You heard it here first.

Until the next time.