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Wihdat begin AFC Champions League journey

By Aline Bannayan - Apr 06,2022 - Last updated at Apr 06,2022

AMMAN — Wihdat are training in Dammam Saudi Arabia as they embark on their 2022 regional football agenda as the sole Jordanian team to play the continent’s leading tournament — the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League.

The powerhouse in Jordanian football, Wihdat lost their Pro League title to Ramtha last season, and fans are now upbeat on regional performances. Wihdat had their league matches rescheduled and start their Group E matches Friday against Saudi Arabia’s Faisali before playing Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf and Qatar’s Al Sadd.

Teams will play from April 8 to April 27, following which the top team in the each group and three best second placed teams will advance to the knockout stage.

A total of 40 teams are playing in 10 groups, with 33 playing directly in the group stages and seven advancing through preliminary round matches. 

In 2021, Wihdat became the first of the Kingdom’s clubs to play in the round robin group stages of the AFC Champions League. They were eliminated after an impressive performance against Saudi Arabia’s Nassr, Iran’s Foolad and Qatar’s Al Sadd to finish 3rd in Group D. 

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.

On the other hand, Pro League champ Ramtha and Jordan Cup champs Faisali will not be playing the second-tier Asian club competition — the AFC Cup — after Jordanian teams did not qualify due to financial and technical constraints. It will be the first time Jordanian teams do not participate since 2005.

In 2021, Jordan’s Salt played their inaugural AFC Cup and were eliminated by three-time former champs Kuwait FC in the semifinals of the West Asia Zone. Jordan’s Faisali were knocked out of the event in the first round. In the 2020 edition, Faisali played alongside Jazira before the tournament was stopped with the COVID-19 pandemic halting regional and international sporting agendas. 

Faisali won the AFC Cup title in 2005 and 2006, and Shabab Urdun in 2007. Other Jordanian teams participating in previous editions include Wihdat, Ramtha, Jazira, Hussein, That Ras and Ahli.

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