Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Asia: Saudi clubs impose themselves on Champions League

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 31, 2012

AFC CHmapions League trophySaudi Arabian football will be well represented in the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League. Following this week’s Round of 16 matches three sides from Saudi Arabia made it through to the last eight with another five teams, all hailing from different nations,  to join them in the business end of the tournament.

Al Ahli, who finished second in their domestic championship this season, will join compatriots Al Ittihad and Al Hilal with all three teams encountering different levels of difficulty in order to qualify. Al Ahli had to go through the tension and drama of a penalty shoot-out following a 3-3 after extra-time against UAE outfit Al Jazira. Al Hilal made much easier work of another side from the United Arab Emirates, namely Baniyas SC, thrashing them to the tune of seven goals to one with Korean Byung-Soo Yoo getting on the score sheet four times. Al Ittihad also made light work of Iranian giants Persepolis, eliminating the Tehran based club 3-0.

In the all-Iranian clash Sepahan FC, who won their domestic championship this season, will hope to add continental honours to the trophy cabinet after defeating Esteghlal 2-0 thanks to goals from Bruno Correa and Mohsen Bengar. South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai won through a difficult encounter by the odd goal in five in a 3-2 win over Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol. South Korea’s representation was halved, however, following the elimination of 2010 Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma who lost out to a Hayrulla Karimov penalty in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Uzbekistan champions Bunyodkor FC.

China and Australia also enjoy representation in the last eight following triumphs for Ghangzhou Evergrande and Adelaide United respectively. Ghangzhou, now under the management of former FIFA World Cup winner Marcello Lippi, were thankful to Brazilian striker Cleo who was the lone marksman on target in a 1-0 win over FC Tokyo. Australian side Adelaide also went through against Japanese opposition, defeating Nagoya Grampus Eight by the same score line thanks to a Jonathan McKain goal three minutes before the half-time break.

The draw for the remainder of the tournament will be made on Friday, June 14th in Kuala Lumpur.

In the AFC Cup each of the eight quarter-finalists hails from a different nation as the competition proves to be geographically diverse. The biggest winners in the Round of 16 stage were Iraqi side Arbil SC who defeated Neftchi Farg’ona of Uzbekistan by four goals to nil. Kelantan got the better of compatriots Terengganu as the all-Malaysian clash finished in a 3-2 win for the former. Arema FC, who hail from Indonesia, also went through at the expense of Hong Kong champions Kitchee SC with a 2-0 win. There were also wins for Al Kuwait, Al Ettifaq (Saudi Arabia), Al Wehdat (Jordan), Al Shorta (Syria) and Chonburi FC (Thailand).

Asia: Tough challenges ahead for Asian football’s finest

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 17, 2012

AFC Champions LeagueAsian football’s two major continental tournaments have reached the knockout stages following the conclusion of the group stages this week.

The AFC Champions League is usually dominated by South Korean clubs but only two of this year’s four representatives have made it through the group stage. The two successful clubs are Ulsan Hyundai and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, both of whom topped their groups with unbeaten records, whilst the unfortunate clubs to depart the tournament are last season’s losing finalists Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Pohang Steelers. The latter two clubs, who have been crowned Asian champions four times between them, could only finish third in their respective groups and are eliminated.

The most successful countries in this year’s group stages are Japan, Iran and Saudi Arabia who all have three clubs remaining in the last sixteen. Gamba Osaka, the last Japanese team to win the Asian Champions League, was the only J-League club to fail to progress this time with Nagoya Grampus Eight, FC Tokyo and Kashiwa Reysol going on to represent Japan in the latter stages. Al-Ittihad and Sepahan FC, the last Asian champions from the nations of Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, have made it through to the last sixteen with both clubs finishing top of their groups. Al Hilal and Al Ahli also progress as Saudi Arabian representatives while Iran can count on two of Asian football’s biggest names, Esteghlal and Persepolis, to provide tough competition in the latter stages.  The United Arab Emirates will feature two clubs in the latter rounds. Al Jazira finished top of Group A with an unbeaten record whilst Baniyas Sports Club finished second in Group B behind Al Ittihad and well above Nasaf Qarshi, the club from Uzbekistan who gained a place in this year’s AFC Champions League having won the secondary AFC Cup in 2011.

Nasaf’s compatriots Bunyodkor are the only club from their nation still involved in the last sixteen with the ambitious Tashkent based side hoping that the major investment pumped into the club over the last five years will soon pay off. Australian side Adelaide United, who finished above Bunyodkor in Group E, are the only side from Down Under to make it through while Central Coast Mariners and two-time defending A-League champions Brisbane Roar, were easily swept aside by stronger opponents. The only country left remaining with one representative in the top competition is China who will rely on Ghangzhou Evergrande to fly the flag. The club has announced today (see previous report) that former FIFA World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi has joined on a two-and-a-half year deal and expectations are high that Ghangzhou could become the first Chinese club to become Asian champions for a quarter of a century.

AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ROUND OF 16 DRAW

Adelaide United (Australia) v Nagoya Grampus Eight (Japan)

Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) v Baniyas SC (UAE)

Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia) v Persepolis (Iran)

Al Jazira (UAE) v Al Ahli (Saudi Arabia)

Ghangzhou Evergrande (China) v FC Tokyo (Japan)

Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (South Korea) v Bunyodkor FC (Uzbekistan)

Sepahan (Iran) v Esteghlal (Iran)

Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea) v Kashiwa Reysol (Japan)

The AFC Cup, Asian football’s equivalent of the Europa League or Copa Sudamericana, will see three Kuwaiti teams progress to the last sixteen. Two of those three, Al Qadsia and Al Kuwait, will meet each other in the Round of 16 whilst Kazma Sports Club face the only remaining Jordanian side Al Wehdat SC. Another tie which features two teams from the same country is the all-Malaysian affair between Kelantan and Terengganu. Iraq is the final nation to be represented by two clubs in the latter stages, namely Arbil SC and Al Zawra’a SC, while another seven nations will be represented by lone representatives in a competition showing great diversity, as is shown in the draw (below):

AFC CUP ROUND OF 16 DRAW

Al Qadsia (Kuwait) v Al Kuwait (Kuwait)

Al Ettifaq (Saudi Arabia) v Al Suwaiq (Oman)

Al Wehdat (Jordan) v Kazma Sports Club (Kuwait)

Al Shorta (Syria) v Home United (Singapore)

Arbil SC (Iraq) v Neftchi Farg’ona (Uzbekistan)

Chonburi (Thailand) v Al Zawra’a (Iraq)

Kitchee SC (Hong Kong) v Arema FC (Indonesia)

Kelantan (Malaysia) v Terengganu (Malaysia)

AFC: Asian competition returns with Cup quarter-finals

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on September 13, 2011

AFC Cup logoThe quarter-final, first leg ties in the AFC Cup, Asian football’s second-tier competition, were played today.

The first match of the day saw Iraqi side Arbil Sports Club take a crucial 2-1 lead from Indonesian outfit Persipura Jayapura who had home advantage today but didn’t make the most of it. Nabeel Sabah and Muslim Mubarak were on the score sheet for the Iraqis with Zah Rahan Krangar pulling one back for the hosts with eight minutes of the game remaining. The second game was a contentious affair involving Thailand’s Chonburi FC and Uzbekistan’s Nasaf Quarshi FC, both of whom had a player sent off. The only goal of the game came just three minutes into the second half with Montenegrin forward Ivan Bošković hitting the target and proving to be the difference between the two teams.

It proved not to be a particularly great day for Thai clubs as Muangthong United also lost in their match away at Al-Kuwait with Rogerinho’s 76th minute strike separating the two sides with the second leg to be played in a fortnight’s time. The final game of the day came in Jordan where Al-Wehdat overcame the challenge of Iraqis Duhok SC with Mahmoud Shelbaieh’s hat-trick in the last ten minutes of the game giving the home side a comfortable advantage to take into the return fixture.

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AFC: Champions and Cup review

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 12, 2011

AFC Champions League logoThe group stages in the two major Asian club competitions have concluded on Wednesday and there was plenty of tension in the air. The remaining places in the Round of 16 stages of each competition were up for grabs and ensured some dramatic action on Matchday 6.

In the AFC Champions League there was virtually nothing left to play for in the east of the continent as all of the qualifiers from Groups E-H were known before kick-off. It was a different tale in the west of the continent however with a number of places still available from Groups A-D. Iranian giants Esteghlal were arguably the biggest casualty despite winning their final Group B game 2-1 at home to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Sadd, the away side just scraping through the group with a better goal difference of two separating them from their hosts after six games. Group D proved to be just as dramatic with Emirates Sports Club, who still had a chance of second place, losing to wooden spoonists Al-Rayyan by 2-0 and allowing Saudi side Al-Shabab to claim the second spot after they defeated group winners Zob Ahan FC 1-0 thanks to a Fisal Bin Sultan goal in the 57th minute. The final Round of 16 place was decided in Group A following a head-to-head between Al-Hilal and Al-Gharafa with the former gaining victory over the latter by two goals to nil and ensuring that they come second in the group, level on points with Sepahan.

2011 AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ROUND OF 16 DRAW

Sepahan (Iran) v Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan)

Al-Ittihad (Saudi Arabia) v Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

Al-Sadd (Qatar) v Al-Shabab (Saudi Arabia)

Zob Ahan (Iran) v Al-Nassr (Saudi Arabia)

Gamba Osaka (Japan) v Cerezo Osaka (Japan)

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (South Korea) v Tianjin Teda (China)

FC Seoul (South Korea) v Kashima Antlers (Japan)

Suwon Bluewings (South Korea) v Nagoya Grampus Eight (Japan)

One-leg matches to be played on May 24-25

AFC Cup logoThe AFC Cup, Asia’s equivalent of the Europa League or Sudamericana, saw defending champions Al-Ittihad (Iraq) suffer a shock exit in Group B. They had to defeat group winners Al-Qadsia (Kuwait) in order to claim the second spot but were defetaed 3-2 to end all hopes of progressing. Group C also saw some real drama with three teams – Dohuk FC, Al-Faisaly Club and Al-Jaish – all finish on eleven points and had to separated on head-to-head records. Despite having the overall superior goal difference Syrian side Al-Jaish were unfortunate to be eliminated as their records against the Iraqi and Jordanian qualifiers was inferior. Al-Kuwait, AFC Cup champions in 2009, scored a last minute penalty to defeat Al-Talaba 2-1 and secure second place by five points at the expense of their Iraqi opponents. Similarly, in Group F, Indonesian team Sriwijaya FC clinched second spot by a solitary point after leapfrogging challengers TSW Pegasus (Hong Kong) following their 3-2 win in Palembang. Group E saw Lebanese side Al-Ahed go through, also via a superior head-to-head record, following their 2-0 win over Al-Oruba. This, coupled with Arbil’s defeat of Al-Karamah, gave Lebanon’s sole representative the final place in the last 16.

2011 AFC CUP ROUND OF 16 DRAW

Nasaf Qharsi (Uzbekistan) v Al-Faisaly (Jordan)

Duhok FC (Iraq) v Dempo FC (India)

Al-Qadsia (Kuwait) v Al-Kuwait (Kuwait)

Al-Wehdat (Jordan) v Shurtan Guzar (Uzbekistan)

Arbil SC (Iraq) v Tampines Rovers (Singapore)

Muangthong United (Thailand) v Al-Ahed (Lebanon)

Song Lam Nghe An (Vietnam) v Persipura Jayapura (Indonesia)

Chonburi FC (Thailand) v Sriwijaya (Indonesia)

One-leg matches to be played on May 24-25

AFC: Al-Sadd and Al Ain reach Champions League

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on February 20, 2011

AFC Champions LeagueThe qualifying play-offs for the 2011 AFC Champions League have been completed this weekend and for Qatar’s Al-Sadd and Al Ain from the United Arab Emirates it has been a great weekend as they secured the final two berths in this year’s tournament.

In the West section Al-Sadd, who easily disposed of Syrian side Al-Ittihad with a 5-1 scoreline in the first play-off round, had to overcome the challenge of Indian champions Dempo SC in order to reach the group stages. This they did as strikes from Abdul Kader Keïta and Leandro secured a 2-0 win for the Doha-based side who will participate in Group B of this season’s Champions League against the likes of Esteghlal Tehran, Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr and Uzbek champions Bunyodkor FC.

In the East section Indonesian champions Sriwijaya had already got past the challenge of Thailand’s Muangthong United in the first qualifying play-off, albeit after a penalty shoot-out, but had it tough against Al Ain who swept aside their opponents with relative ease. Mohammed Haddaf gave Al-Ain the lead after quarter of an hour with Elias doubling their advantage on the stroke of half-time. Omar Abdulrahman made it 3-0 just six minutes after the break before Elias scored his second to complete the scoring sixty seconds later. Al-Ain have a difficult draw in Group F where they’ll face Nagoya Grampus Eight and Seoul FC, champions of Japan and South Korea respectively, as well as Chinese qualifiers Ghangzhou Greentown.

All of the losing teams in the play-offs  have the consolation of a place in the AFC Cup, Asian football’s second-tier competition.

AFC: Seongnam and Zob Ahan reach CL final; AFC Cup Review (+video)

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on October 20, 2010

Both of the two major Asian club tournaments have decided their finalists over the last couple of nights. The AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup witnessed two semi-finals of major tension and drama with two of the four fixtures seeing the sides separated by just one goal over the two legs whilst another was decided by away goals. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the latest from an action-packed set of final four match-ups.

The AFC Champions League could see a South Korean champion for the second successive season following Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma’s away goals victory over Saudi Arabia’s Al-Shabab. The Saudis held a 4-3 advantage from a thrilling first leg but would have to face a tough challenge away from home against a team who have lost only four matches in front of their own fans in this calendar year. In the second leg Cho Dong-Geon’s lone strike on the half hour mark would prove the difference between the two sides as Seongnam secured a 4-4 aggregate draw and subsequently went through thanks to the three goals they scored in the Saudi capital Riyadh a fortnight earlier.

WATCH SEONGNAM v AL-SHABAB HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

The team who stand between further Korean success in the competition are Zob Ahan FC. The Iranian team have reached their maiden AFC Champions League final having won both legs of their semi-final against Saudi Arabians Al-Hilal by a 1-0 scoreline. Brazilian Igor Castro scored the only goal of the second leg ten minutes into the second half which didn’t leave Al-Hilal much time to score the three goals they needed if they were to progress from the competition. Belgian coach Eric Gerets, hopeful of reaching the final in his first season in charge of the Saudi club, had to concede that the better team won and Zob Ahan can now look forward to taking the field at the National Stadium, Tokyo, against Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma on November 13th.

WATCH AL-HILAL v ZOB AHAN 2ND LEG WINNING GOAL HERE:

The AFC Cup semi-finals also saw some fascinating action with both ties being decided by the odd goal. The highest scoring semi-final was between Al-Riffa (Bahrain) and Al-Qadsia (Kuwait) with the former 2-0 ahead over the latter going into the second leg played in the Kuwaiti city of Hawally. Al-Qadsia gave their fans plenty to cheer after going four goals up in the second leg thanks to goals from Abdulaziz al-Mesham, Hamad al-Enezi, Bader al-Motawaa and Omar Bu-Hamad before Al-Riffa’s Hamad Rakea scored a very late consolation goal to make it a nervous finish for the home side. There wasn’t much time left after the visitors’ goal however and Al-Qadsia could look forward to their first ever AFC Cup final winning 4-3 on aggregate.

Another first time finalist is Al-Ittihad, the Syrian team who overturned a one goal deficit from the first leg and progressed with a 2-0 victory in the return leg over Thailand’s Muangthong United. Mohamed al-Hasan scored both goals for Al-Ittihad in the first half as United blew their chance to become the first club from their country to reach the final of this particular competition. Both of the finalists have already met each other twice in the group phase of this year’s competition with Al-Qadsia having the better record over their opponents having won one game and drawn the other one. Al-Qadsia will also host the final to be played on November 6th.

WATCH AL-ITTIHAD v MUANGTHONG UNITED 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

AFC: Al-Shabab and Zob Ahan sneak one goal leads; AFC Cup Review

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on October 6, 2010
Ghasem Hadadifar

Ghasem Hadadifar (left) scored the winning goal for Iranian side Zob Ahan

Asian club competition has reached a crucial point of the season with both of the Asian Football Confederation’s flagship tournaments in the semi-final stages. There have been goals galore in the AFC Champions League whilst the AFC Cup has seen two more tense affairs amongst the final four. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the action.

South Korean side Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, their country’s lone representatives in this tournament following the exit of three fellow K-League sides in the quarter-finals, were involved in an extraordinary game away at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Shabab. The visitors led the game three times only to lose by four goals to three having seen a 3-2 lead slip in the final eight minutes of the game. Goals from Mauricio Molina (2) and Jo Jae-Cheol for Seongnam were counterbalanced by strikes from Juan Manuel Oliveira (2) and Nasser Al-Shamrani before Fisal Al Sultan popped up to score the winning goal for Al-Shabab who must defend their slender lead in South Korea in a fortnight’s time.

On Wednesday there weren’t as many goals in the game between Iranians Zob Ahan and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal but the action was just as captivating. The deadlock wasn’t broken until the 56th minute when Zob Ahan’s Ghasem Hadadafar’s low drive from a free-kick beat the keeper low at his near post and that was how the match stayed. With the match on home turf in two weeks time Al-Hilal will hope to overturn the deficit in front of a hostile crowd and potentially set themselves up for a third triumph in this competition which they also won in 1992 and 2000 as opposed to Zob Ahan who have aspirations of reaching their first ever final.

The AFC Cup has seen clubs from the western half of the continent dominate proceedings in the last few years although Thailand representatives Muangthong United are doing their best to buck the trend. They defeated Syrian side Ittihad by a solitary goal to nil on Tuesday with Siaka Dagno’s early eighth minute strike proving the difference between the two sides in a tense first leg which saw Ittihad’s Omar Hemidi shown the red card with just five minutes remaining. In the other tie Bahrain’s Al-Riffa have a more comfortable lead to defend in the second leg after winning their first leg match 2-0 at home to Al-Qadsia. Rico got the ball rolling in the 29th minute whilst Mubarak Abdulrahman sealed the deal with just ten minutes remaining. Both second leg ties take place in a fortnight’s time and it sets up an exciting conclusion to this stage of the competition.

AFC: Steelers crash out of Champions League; AFC Review (+video)

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on September 22, 2010

Defending champions Pohang Steelers have been knocked out of the AFC Champions League by Iranian side Zob Ahan after they could only draw their home second leg 1-1 after going down to a 2-1 defeat seven days ago, thus losing 3-2 on aggregate. This and all the remaining games in this competiton and the AFC Cup are reviewed here on Stoppage Time – International Football Blog.

It’s already been a difficult season for Pohang Steelers and today’s events only rubbed salt further into the wounds. Tenth in the Korean League table and with virtually no chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, the Steelers had to successfully defend the trophy they won in 2009 if they were to have another crack of Asia’s premier club competition in 2011. Not only that but Pohang hadn’t won in their last four matches in all competitions so the odds seemed against them. But there was an early breakthrough for the Koreans after just ten minutes when Jae-Sung Kim put the Steelers into an early lead. Had the game stayed that way then Pohang would’ve gone through on the away goals rule but they were to suffer heartbreak with just ten minutes remaining. Mohammad Reza Khalatbari’s 80th minute equalizer gave the Iranians the advantage and Pohang needed a goal to take the game into extra-time. Zob Ahan felt the pressure as they tried to hang on and they had Mahdi Rajabzadeh sent off in the 86th minute to add to the drama. However there was to be no fairytale end for Pohang Steelers as time ran out and the champions had been dumped out of the tournament in front of their home supporters.

SEE POHANG STEELERS v ZOB AHAN 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

In the other AFC Champions League games the all-Korean quarter-final saw Suwon Bluewings bravely bow out at home to compatriots Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma. Seongnam won the first leg 4-1 and they were confident of defending the lead going into the return fixture. However Suwon scored twice before the hour mark to make it a very nervy game for Seongnam, Ki Hun Yeom opening the scoring on 32 minutes and Sang-Ho Lee doubling the second leg lead on 59 minutes to set up a grand finale. However Suwon just couldn’t take the fight to Seongnam who were able to cling on to their 4-3 aggregate lead for the rest of the game and, thus, go through to the final four.

After taking half of the quarter-final spots the South Korean quartet has been reduced to just one representative in the final four as Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors also went out despite winning their second leg match against Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab by a goal to nil courtesy of Ji Woong-Kim’s 23rd minute effort. The 2-0 defeat that Jeonbuk suffered on the Arabian peninsula has come back to hurt them and now the Saudis will take on Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in the semi-finals.

The most sensational finish to a game in this round came in Qatar as Al Gharafa were able to pull back a three goal deficit from their first leg meeting with Saudi Arabians Al Hilal and take the game into extra-time. Al Gharafa were even able to take the lead for the first time in the tie after 102 minutes when Younes Mahmoud scored his second of the game to make it 4-3 on aggregate. From that point onwards the Qatari side tried to hold on to what they had but they were made to pay as Al Hilal scored two goals in the last three minutes of second half extra-time to provide a cruel twist to the game. Yasser Al Qahtani and Eysa Al Mehyani doing the damage late on to seal an amazing 5-4 aggregate win for the Riyadh-based side who now face Zob Ahan in the semi-finals.

AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2010 SEMI-FINAL DRAW

Al Shabab v Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma

Zob Ahan v Al Hilal

Matches to be played October 6th and 20th

The AFC Cup quarter-final second legs have also taken place in the last couple of days in what has been an exciting last eight stage of the competition. It was a mixed bag of results for teams from Thailand as the joy of progression for Muangthong United was countered by disappointment for Thai Port FC. Muangthong United overturned a 1-0 first leg deficit and came through to win the home leg 2-0 against Kuwaiti side Al Karamah to go through 2-1 on aggregate. Datsakorn Thonglao’s 28th minute strike was complimented ten minutes later by Dagno Siaka’s 38th minute penalty kick which gave the overall lead to Muangthong United who never relinquished it. Thai Port, on the other hand, began the day on level terms against Kuwaiti champions Al Qadsia but were to succumb to a 3-0 defeat in Kuwait City thanks to strikes from Hamad Al Enezi, Bader Al Mutwa and Abdulaziz Mashaan. Bahrain’s Al Riffa were involved in an eight goal battle with Vietnamese Da Nang for whom Sebastian Merlo hit a hat-trick in vain as his side went down to a 5-3 home defeat and 8-3 aggregate reverse. The final game of the quarter-finals saw Ittihad defeat Kazma by a solitary goal to nil in order to progress to the semi-finals. Ittihad won the first leg by three goals to two and it was Majed Humssi’s penalty goal six minutes before half-time that out them through.

AFC CUP 2010 SEMI-FINAL DRAW

Muangthong United v Al-Ittihad

Al-Riffa v Al-Qadsia

Matches to be played October 5th and 19th

AFC: Mixed fortunes for Korean clubs; AFC Cup Review

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on September 15, 2010
AFC Champions League trophy

Eight teams remain in the AFC Champions League

The AFC Champions League, Asia’s elite football competition, is back in action after a four month holiday and it proved to be a mixed bag for the South Korean quartet who make up half of the quarter-final draw. In the AFC Cup, the secondary competition equivalent to the UEFA Europa League or Copa Sudamericana, Middle Eastern clubs continue to dominate with five teams from that region remaining in the tournament whilst the other three quarter-finalists hail from the south east of the continent. After some intensive first leg matches Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews all of the action.

South Korean clubs have had a near perfect record so far in the AFC Champions League with all four K-League representatives making it through to the last eight with ease. They have found it tough going so far in the quarter-finals with a mixed bag of results. Defending AFC Champions League holders Pohang Steelers faced a tricky away tie in Iran and came away with a 2-1 defeat to Zob Ahan FC. Igor gave Zob Ahan the lead after 17 minutes only for Mota to restore parity for Pohang in the 56th minute. The deciding first leg goal came in the 76th minute when Mehdi Rajabzadeh converted from the penalty spot. With two of the four Korean sides paired together in the last eight it means that the country will have at least one team in the semi-finals. Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma look best placed to be that team after Wednesday’s first leg tie after beating compatriots Suwon Samsung Bluewings by four goals to one with Dženan Radončić bagging a brace. Mauricio Molina and Yang-Sang Min were also on the scoresheet for Seongnam who now have one foot in the next round despite Yeom Ki-Hun’s lone reply for Suwon. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors surprisingly lost at home to Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab by two goals to nil. Fahad Al Yamani and Juan Manuel Oliveira scored the goals which did the damage in the second half and the victory was slightly diminished by the showing of a red card to Abdulmarek Alkhaibri in the 86th minute. The final 1st leg match was played in Riyadh as Saudi Arabia’s second representatives Al Hilal set up a nice advantage for the return leg next Wednesday defeating Qatari side Al-Gharafa by three goals to nil.

AFC Cup logoThe AFC Cup quarter-final 1st legs also got under way this week with Middle Eastern sides featuring prominently on Tuesday. Syrians Al Karamah had Mohamed Al Zeno to thank for gifting them a goal’s advantage after their 1-0 win over Thailand’s Muangthong United whilst Bahraini Premier League side Al Riffa overcame the challenge of Vietnamese SHB Da Nang by a comfortable 3-0 margin with Saleh Ahmed Farhan, Abuda and Rico amongst the goals. Syrians Al Ittihad beat Kuwaiti side Kazma by the odd goal in five in what was an exciting game. Al Ittihad looked to have a comfortable lead for the 2nd leg when they went 3-1 up in the 90th minute only for Kazma to score four minutes into stoppage time to give themselves a chance at home in the return fixture. The final game in the round finished as a goalless stalemate between Thai Port (Thailand) and Al Qadsia (Kuwait).

The quarter-finals in both competitions come to a conclusion next week.

AFC: Asian competitions start to heat up

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 26, 2010
Pohang Steelers

Pohang Steelers are the defending AFC Champions League holders

The quarter-final draws for Asian club competition were made in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday and there are some intriging ties. The Asian Champions League is dominated by South Korean clubs who made up half of the eight teams remaining at this stage of the tournament. Therefore there was no country protection for those teams but there was protection for the two Saudi Arabia clubs who are still involved. Defending Asian champions Pohang Steelers will meet Iranians Zob Ahan, who recently finished their domestic league season as runners up. The one all-Korean tie of the round sees Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, Asian champions in 1995-96, face off against Suwon Samsung Bluewings who won the competition in back-to-back years (2001 and 2002). The final Korean team Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors plays against Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab whilst, in the only tie not involving Korean teams, Qatari champions Al Gharafa play against another team from Saudi Arabia, namely Al Hilal.

In the AFC Cup there was also country protection, a rule barring teams from the same country from meeting each other, for the clubs from Kuwait, Syria and Thailand all of whom had two teams each left standing. Last season’s losing finalists Al Karamah will hope to go one better this time and the Syrian side meet up with Thailand’s Muangthong United. Thai Port have a last eight meeting with Al Qadsia of Kuwaiti while the latter’s compatriots Kazma FC will meet Syrians Al-Ittihad who recently finished fourth in the 2009-10 Syrian League. The final tie sees current Vietnamese league leaders SHB Da Nang play against nine-time champions of Bahrain Al Riffa.

AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTER-FINAL DRAW (First leg home teams on left)

1. Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) v Al Gharafa (Qatar)

2. Zob Ahan (Iran) v Pohang Steelers (South Korea)

3. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (South Korea) v Al Shabab (Saudi Arabia)

4. Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (South Korea) v Suwon Samsung Bluewings (South Korea)

1st Leg: 15/09/10 2nd Leg: 22/09/10

AFC CUP QUARTER-FINAL DRAW (First leg home teams on left)

1. Al-Riffa (Bahrain) v SHB Da Nang (Vietnam)

2. Al Karamah (Syria) v Muangthong United (Thailand)

3. Thai Port (Thailand) v Al Qadsia (Kuwait)

4. Al-Ittihad (Syria) v Kazma FC (Kuwait)

1st Leg: 14/09/10 2nd Leg: 21/09/10