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Salt qualify to AFC Cup West Asia semis

By Aline Bannayan - May 29,2021 - Last updated at May 29,2021

AMMAN — Jordan’s Salt have advanced to the semifinals of the West Asia Zone after taking second spot in Group B of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup matches which ended in Amman on the weekend.

The top team in each of the zone’s three groups alongside the best second placed team moved on to the zonal semifinals before teams play the advanced inter zonal knockout stages and final of the second-tier Asian club competition.

Group B saw 2008 champions Bahrain’s Muharraq and Salt tie in overall points however, the Bahraini team took the group led on head-to-head points over Salt whom they beat 1-0.

Salt, who played their inaugural AFC Cup, took second spot after beating Palestine’s Balata 5-0 and Lebanon’s Ansar 2-1. Balata scored the upset result of the group when they beat Muharraq 3-2.

Group C hosts Jordan’s Faisali were knocked out of the event after they lost 1-0 to three-time champs Kuwait Club, 1-0 to Syria’s Tishreen and beat Palestine’s Ama’ri 2-0. Tishreen held Kuwait 3-3 and beat Ama’ri 5-1 to finish third in the group.

Reigning AFC Cup titleholders, Lebanon’s Al -Ahed qualified from Group A ahead of Syria’s Wahda and Bahrain’s Al Hidd in matches played in Manama. 

The zonal semifinals will be played in September when Salt play Kuwait FC and Al Ahed face Muharraq.

In the 2020 AFC Cup, Faisali played alongside Jazira before the tournament was scrapped with the COVID-19 pandemic halting regional and international sporting agendas. 

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

The 2021 AFC Cup is the 18th edition of the tournament. The winners will automatically qualify to the 2022 AFC Champions League, and will enter the qualifying play-offs if they have not qualified through their domestic performance. 

Earlier this month, Wihdat played the continent’s leading tournament — the AFC Champions League but were eliminated in the group stages after an impressive performance alongside Saudi Arabia’s Nassr, Iran’s Foolad and Qatar’s Al Sadd to finish 3rd in Group D. Group leaders and top three second place finishers moved on to the knockout stage.

Wihdat became the first of the Kingdom’s clubs to play in the round robin group stages of the AFC Champions League. None of the Kingdom’s clubs have ever made it past the AFC Champions League preliminary round where Faisali played in 2020 and 2018, Wihdat in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019, and Shabab Urdun in 2014.

 

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