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Wihdat only Jordan club to compete in AFC competitions

By Aline Bannayan - Jan 25,2022 - Last updated at Jan 25,2022

AMMAN — Wihdat are eager to start their 2022 football agenda, however, some of their league matches need to be rescheduled as they will be 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 Jordan Professional Football League (Pro League) title to Ramtha last season, however, fans are now upbeat on regional performances after the draw for the AFC was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this week.

The draw placed Wihdat in Group E playing from April 7 — 27 alongside Qatar’s Al Sadd, Saudi Arabia’s Faisali and the winner of the UAE’s Bani Yas versus Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf play-off West match.

A total of 40 teams will play 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. Group leaders and top three second place finishers moved on to the knockout stage.

None of the Kingdom’s clubs have ever made it past the AFC Champions League preliminary round where Faisali played in 2018 and 2020, 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 to play due to financial and technical constraints. It will be the first time Jordanian teams don’t play 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. 

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

In the 2021 football season’s local competitions, Ramtha won the Pro League title for the third time in their history ending a 39-year drought. They edged out titleholders Wihdat who settled for second place, as Salt remained third, followed by Faisali. Newcomers to the Pro League, relatively unknown Jalil, overcame Wihdat to win the 34th Jordan Football Association Shield. Wihdat beat one-time winners Jazira in the 38th Jordan Super Cup, while Faisali beat Salt to win the Jordan Cup.

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