Muscat: Suwaiq failed to take advantage of home conditions and went down narrowly to Syria’s Al Jaish in the AFC Cup on Monday.
In a crucial Group A match played at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (SQSC), the visitors recorded a solitary goal victory to stay on top while the home side are in third place in four-team group with just one point from two games.
Suwaiq, who were held to a goalless draw by Iraq’s Al Zawraa in their first game back in February, play their next match on March 13 against visiting Jordanian side Al Ahli.
At SQSC on Monday, Mohammad Hamdkou scored the only goal of the game as inaugural AFC Cup winners Al Jaish of Syria maintained their winning start in Group A, according to the news posted on the AFC website.
Al Suwaiq goalkeeper Anwar Al Alawi was called into a flying save inside three minutes when he tipped over Zakria Kadoor’s sweetly struck 20-yard volley from Sameer Belal’s corner from the right, but chances remained at a premium in a first half that ended goalless.
Tchetche Kipre then fired just wide for the hosts shortly after the hour, before Hamdkou was at the back post to finish substitute Yousef Kalfa’s corner from the left on 68 minutes for his second goal of the continental campaign.
Al Jaish ‘keeper Ahmad Madanieh denied Al Abd Al Nofli with a fine save five minutes later as Al Suwaiq pushed for an equaliser, but the Syrian side held out to stretch their lead at the top of the standings to four points after Jordan’s Al Ahli and Al Zawraa of Iraq drew 1-1 in Monday’s other Group A fixture.
In the West and ASEAN Zones, each group winner and the best second-placed club among the three groups (total four teams) will qualify for the zonal semi-finals. A West Zone final will be held to determine the region’s representative for the AFC Cup final. There will also be inter-zone play-offs between the champions of the ASEAN, Central, South and East Zones. The winner of the inter-zone play-offs will then take on the West Zone representative in the final of the AFC Cup.