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Wihdat hope to advance past Syria’s Wihdeh in AFC Cup

By Aline Bannayan - May 15,2017 - Last updated at May 15,2017

AMMAN — After a tough local season, and failing to win any local competition title, Wihdat have now set the 14th Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup title as a priority.

The 2016 Jordan Professional Football League champs have advanced to the Round of 16 of the regional event and will now face Syria’s Wihdeh in Beirut on Tuesday in the two-leg West Asia zone semis. The winner will face the team advancing from the all-Iraqi encounter of Air Force and Zawra’a in the other semifinal with the winners advancing to the West Asia final on September 11 and 29 to decide the West Asia zone’s champ.

The West Asia zone champ will face the winner from the rest of the Asian zones on November 4 to decide the AFC Cup titlist with prize money set at $1 million for the champion and $500,000 for the runner-up. 

Should Wihdat win the zonal championship, they stand a good chance of winning the AFC Cup, a feat that eluded them after it was previously won three times by Jordanian teams: Faisali won in 2005 and 2006, and Shabab Urdun won  in 2007.

Wihdat are trying hard to put things back on track after what has been their most disappointing season in years. After combining all four local competitions in past seasons, and following three successive years at the helm, last season Wihdat settled for third in the league after they won the title for the 15th time since moving up to the Professional League in 1975. With the title of the Jordan Football Association Shield and Cup winners Cup eluding them, they also lost Leg 1 of the Jordan Cup as well. The team’s coach, Adnan Hamad, resigned this week after their 2-0 defeat to Faisali in the Jordan Cup semis.

Wihdat reached the AFC Cup West Asia zone semis after they topped group C, following their 3-2 win over Bahrain’s Muharraq. On their way to the round of 16, Wihdat held Lebanon’s Nijmeh and Muharraq and Oman’s Saham 1-1. They also beat Saham 2-1 and scored a 1-0 win over Nijmeh.

Representing Jordan in the AFC Cup for the first time, Jordan Cup titleholders Ahli finished third in the Group A after they were held 1-1 with Iraq’s Zawra’a. They earlier lost 2-1 and 1-0 to Syria’s. They beat Oman’s Suweiq 2-1 and were held 0-0. They also held Zawra’a 1-1.

Ahli started the season beating Wihdat 2-1 to win the 34th Super Cup . However, they struggled and finished 7th in the league and were eliminated from the Jordan Cup. 

 

It’s Wihdat’s 10th time in the competition after their ambitions of competing among top tier teams were dashed early when they were eliminated from the preliminary round of 2017 AFC Asian Champions League.

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