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Wihdat kick off 2021 AFC Champions League

By Aline Bannayan - Apr 13,2021 - Last updated at Apr 13,2021

AMMAN — Wihdat kick off their participation in the continents’ leading competition — the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League — when they play Saudi Arabia’s Nassr on Wednesday in their first Group D match in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Jordan Professional Football League (Pro League) champions Wihdat will be the first of the Kingdom’s teams to play in the round robin group stages of the AFC Champions League, where they are scheduled to play in a tough group that includes two time champs Qatar’s Sadd and Iran’s Foulad from April 14-29 before group leaders and top three second place finishers move on to the knockout stage.

Jordanian teams have never before made it past the AFC Champions League preliminary round where Faisali played in 2020 and 2018, Wihdat in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019, while Shabab Urdun played in 2014.

Mired with financial difficulties like most clubs, and unable to undergo a training camp in preparation, Wihdat’s head coach and former star Abdullah Abu Zam’eh did not underestimate his team’s resolve. The team has an uphill battle against better-prepared Asian sides with technical, financial and competitive prowess. 

This week, Wihdat beat Jazira to win the Jordan Super Cup a week after they earlier lost to newcomers Jalil in the Jordan Football Association (JFA) Shield final. Last season, Wihdat won their 17th Pro League crown and 10th JFA Shield title while Faisali overcame Jazira to win their 17th Jordan Super Cup. The Jordan Cup was not held.

The 2021 AFC Champions League is the 40th edition of Asia’s premier club football tournament organised by the AFC, and the 19th under the current AFC Champions League title. The current edition is the first to involve 40 teams during the group stage, up from the previous 32 teams. The winners of the tournament will automatically qualify for the 2022 AFC Champions League as well as the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.

The most successful clubs in the competition are Saudi Arabia’s Hilal and South Korea’s Pohang Steelers with a total of three titles each. The reigning champions are South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai, who won the competition for the second time in 2020.

The second tier Asian competition — the AFC Cup — will see Jordan represented by Faisali and Salt. In 2020, Faisali played alongside Jazira, however, the tournament was later scrapped 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, Hussein, That Ras and Ahli. 

Arab clubs winning AFC Champions League

2019Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

2011Sadd (Qatar)

2005Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)

2004Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)

2003Al Ain (UAE)

2000Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

1992Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

1989Sadd (Qatar)

 

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