I’m not going to pull any punches, if I see something that I feel isn’t right, I’m going to be nailing my colours to the mast and not holding back. There’s one off the top of my head that has fucked me off a wee bit, so there’s bound to be more.
Tuesday saw the conclusion of quite a few of the groups, nonetheless, we’ll take it from the top and begin with Group A. Al Jazeera of Jordan knew that a win would seal the group, yet their opponents, Malkiya Club had ambitions of their own of making the zonal semi-finals.
No Points And No Hope For Al Suwaiq
Admittedly, they would’ve been reliant on pointless Al Suwaiq beating Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, so maybe their work was cut-out.
In the end, Al Jazeera won courtesy of a second-half Mardik Mardikian goal after Walid Al Tayeb had drawn the Bahraini side level following Musa Al Tamari’s opener from the spot.
It was a routine victory for the Iraqis in the other group game as Al Suwaiq finished the AFC campaign with no points and not an awful lot of promise after a brace from Amjed Radhi ensured that Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya made the semi-finals as the best second-placed side in the region.
Much like Group A, Group B went right down to the wire and it was a direct shootout between Al Ahed of Lebanon and Al Zawraa of Iraq to see who would top the group and proceed to the knockout stages.
Both games between the sides ended 1-1 which meant that it would come down to goal difference and before a ball was kicked Al Ahed’s GD was +4 and Al Zawraa’s was +3, so it really was a case of whoever scores the most, wins.
Al Zawraa Needed To Win By Four
Al Ahed done their bit as they comfortably saw off Manama Club 3-1 which meant that Al Zawraa needed to win by four or to ensure their passage to the next round.
It was not meant to be as it took them until the 62nd minute to break the deadlock and to make matters worse, Ahmad Ashkar levelled in the last minute for Al Jaish to kill all hope.
One game had it all riding on it, the other had diddly squat riding on it. Another side from Jordan, Al Faisaly were in pole position as they had home advantage against Lebanese side Al Ansar.
Al Faisaly just had to win and they were through whereas Al Ansar had to win by two, so the onus was with the away side. A fifteenth-minute goal from ex-Konyaspor man, Alban Meha gave Al Faisaly the additional cushion they required as Al Ansar were never realistically going to score three when you take into account they’d only scored six in the previous five group games.
Dhofar Club bounced back from their home defeat against Al Nasr at the weekend in the best possible way as a second-half brace from Vinicius Calamari gave them a 2-0 win over Al Wahda and that meant they finished above Al Ansar. A bit of pride if nothing else.
This group is slightly behind the other ones we’ve mentioned as yesterday saw the first game of the second-half of the group if you get my drift. In other words, MATCHDAY FOUR out of six.
FC Alay Nearly Got A Shock Point
FC Istiklol made hard work of staying top of the group as they faced pointless FC Alay in a game that really should’ve been a foregone conclusion. To give you some idea, the bookies had the away side as short as 1/5.
When Fatkhuloev opened the scoring with only seven minutes on the clock, you feared the worst for the home side, needn’t worry though as they dug in and equalised not once but twice as it looked like they were going to finally get off the mark. Nope.
Dilsod Vasijev’s 92nd-minute winner broke FC Alay hearts and kept them top of the group.
Altyn Asyr kept the pressure on Istiklol as they saw off their domestic rivals FC Ahal with a single Serdar Geldiyev goal.
There’s no doubt that Istiklol’s clash with Altyn Asyr will be the defining game of this group and that takes place on the 16th of May. Get that marked on the calendar.
Right, this is the one that wound me up so brace for impact. Before we get to the game in question, the dead rubber between Shan United and Boeung Ket ended with a 4-1 win for the home side.
That’s neither here nor there, though. Ceres of the Philippines and Home United of Singapore faced off in the grudge match at the top of the group.
Something Doesn’t Smell Right
What you need to know is that whatever happened in the game, Ceres were guaranteed to qualify by virtue of being the best second-placed side or group winner.
If Home United won, they would go through as group winners and if they drew with Ceres, they would proceed as runners-up.
Home United would be eliminated altogether if they took a bit of a pasting from Ceres, nevertheless, the bookies had Home United priced up at 8/1. Mental. Long story short, Home United won 2-0 with two goals in the last ten minutes to set up a semi-final against Persija whereas Ceres face Yangon because they finished second.
If you were to ask 100 people if they’d rather face Persija or Yangon over two-legs, I firmly believe that Yangon would get the majority of the vote which begs the question, did Ceres throw the game? Someone’s got to say it.
Nothing to write home about in this group at all as everything was already done and dusted before this gameweek. In case you’re wondering, group-winners, Yangon United, drew 3-3 with Vietnamese side FLC Thanh Hoa and Global Cebu ended up with second-place after blitzing Bali United in the first-half to win 3-1.
There is one team and one team only winning this group and that is April 25 Sports Club or 4.25 SC for short. The North Korean side maintained their unblemished record as they beat Benfica Macau 2-0 in their own backyard via two first-half goals from An Il-Born.
That also means that with two games to spare, Benfica are not able to qualify. Hwaepul SC, who also hail from North Korea, are the only side that can catch 4.25 now and that’s only possible after a late winner from Jon-Chung Il against Hang Yuen FC.
For Hwaepul to overthrow 4.25, they need to not only beat their domestic rivals, but they also need Hang Yuen to beat them and that just simply isn’t going to happen.
That is all for this round-up, twas much fun.
Until the next time.