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Wihdat, Jazira lead their respective AFC Cup groups

By Aline Bannayan - Mar 12,2019 - Last updated at Mar 13,2019

AMMAN — Jazira and Wihdat boosted their chances of advancing in the 16th Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup when they scored important wins and shot to the lead ahead of stage three of the competition on April 1 and 2.

Jazira scored a vital 1-0 win over guests titleholders Kuwait Club to share Group B lead with Bahrain’s Nijmeh, who beat Syria’s Ittihad 2-1. Jazira held Nijmeh 1-1 in stage one and next host Ittihad on April 2.

Wihdat now lead Group A after they beat Jerusalem’s Quds 6-2. It was the second win for Wihdat after they beat Lebanon’s Nijmeh 1-0 in stage one. Their next match will be on April 1 when they play Syria’s Jeish who beat Nijmeh 1-0.

The top teams from the three competing Asian groups, in addition to the best second-placed team, will move to the semifinal round of the zone with the winner advancing to the eventual competition final.

The local 2018/19 football season saw Wihdat beating Jordan Cup champions Jazira in the 36th Jordan Super Cup. However, in the league, both Jazira and Wihdat are having an inconsistent season and there are four teams in possible contention for the title.

Jordanian teams won the AFC Cup three times. Faisali won in 2005 and 2006, and Shabab Urdun in 2007. Other Jordanian teams participating in previous editions include Ramtha, Hussein, That Ras and Ahli. Kuwait Club and the Iraqi Air Force Club are AFC Cup record winners having been crowned champions three times each.

In the current AFC Champions League (ACL), the continent’s leading competition, Wihdat were eliminated in the preliminary round by Kuwait Club. Jordanian teams have never before made it past the ACL preliminary round. In the 2017/18 edition, Faisali were knocked out, while Wihdat were also knocked out in 2017, 2016 and 2015, and Shabab Urdun in 2014.

Last season, in 2017/18, Jazira were eliminated from AFC Cup West Asia zone final and failed to reach the continent’s final, while Faisali bowed out earlier in the event’s semifinals. Likewise, Ramtha were eliminated by Tunisia’s Etoile Sportive Du Sahel in the preliminary round of the Arab Club Champions Cup. In the AFC Champions League Faisali was eliminated by Uzbekistan’s Nasaf Qarshi and failed to reach the group stages of Asia’s elite club competition. 

In 2017, Jordanian Professional Football League champions Faisali finished runner-up to Tunisia’s Tarajji in the 2017 Arab Clubs Champions Cup, after an impressive performance which included beating Egyptian veterans Ahli twice. Ahli played the AFC Cup for the first time and Wihdat reached the West Asia zone semifinals.

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