The group stage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2017 has reached its halfway point and the upcoming round of matches are vital to the aspirations of the teams. With the competition at a vital point in the West Zone, let's take a peek at what awaits us in Asia this week.
Al Jaish (SYR) vs Al Zawra'a (IRQ):This is a clash between the two top dogs in Group A. Though Syrian outfit Al Jaish's perfect start to the campaign was brought to an end by Al Zawra'a themselves in the reverse fixture, they still have a point more than their opponents. The Iraqi side was able to win at home but they have to repeat it away in order to take the pole position in the group which will go a long way in securing automatic progress to the next stage.
The 3-1 loss from three weeks ago will rankle in the minds of Al Jaish who will want to pay back in the same coin and in the process put some daylight between themselves and the other teams. Will they be able to do it? Time will tell.
Venue: Grand Hamad Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: April 4, 18:00 UTC+3
Al Ahli (JOR) vs Al Suwaiq (OMA):With just two points to show for from three games each, both Al Ahli and Al Suwaiq are not in the best possible spot as far as Group A is concerned. A defeat on Tuesday could spell the end of their hopes of progressing past this stage of the competition. A draw also does not do either team any favour which means we might see an all-out approach in this game.
Both teams played out a dour draw last time out in Muscat and will need to improve massively to gain a result. More importantly, Al Suwaiq are yet to score a goal in the competition in three outings and Al Ahli will be hopeful of blunting their attack yet again.
Venue: Amman International Stadium, Amman
Kick-off: April 4, 17:00 UTC+3
Air Force Club (IRQ) vs Al Wahda (SYR):The defending champions, Air Force Club (Al Quwa Al Jawiya) have rarely shown the enterprise that they displayed aplenty as their won the tournament last year but can still turn things around as they face Group leaders Al Wahda at home on Monday. Al Wahda and Air Force Club are unbeaten so far in Group B but the Syrian club have a two point lead over Air Force Club.
Both teams took part in a goalless draw last time around and another draw will only suit Al Wahda well. With just the group winner guaranteed automatic progress, Air Force Club need to get their act together and start firing on all cylinders. A win on Monday will put them in pole position with just two rounds remaining.
Venue: Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: April 3, 18:00 UTC+3
Safa SC (LIB) vs Al Hidd (BHR):As Lebanese outfit Safa SC host Al Hidd on Monday in a reverse fixture from Matchday three, they know that a defeat will end their qualification hopes. They sit at the bottom of Group B with just a single point to show for their efforts while Al Hidd are in third spot with three points. They also badly need a win to bring themselves right back into the mix for automatic progression.
But the odds are stacked against Safa SC who lost in the previous round to Al Hidd in what was a comprehensive 3-1 result. They need to forget that and hope that home advantage will help them regroup on Monday.
Venue: Sports City Stadium, Beirut
Kick-off: April 3, 15:15 UTC+3
Saham (OMA) vs Al Wehdat (JOR):Group C leaders Al Wehdat know that a win on Tuesday against Oman's Saham SC will put them on the brink of qualification to the next round. They are currently three points clear at the top of the group while Saham are bottom with three points. While the reverse fixture ended 2-1 in favour of Al Wehdat, Saham will be hopeful of climbing up the group with an upset against the Jordanian club, the prospects of which are bleak, though.
But Al Wehdat, who are unbeaten in the tournament so far, are the clear favourites to go on and clinch all three points in Muscat.
Venue: Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Muscat
Kick-off: April 4, 19:00 UTC+4
Al Muharraq (BHR) vs Nejmeh (LIB):As Al Muharraq prepare to host Lebanese side Nejmeh in Manama, they will be hopeful of riding a positive result from three weeks ago when they reversed their poor start to the campaign by putting Nejmeh to the sword in the reverse fixture. Now, with three points in their kitty, another win at home will propel them into beinggenuine contenders for progression to the next phase.
Nejmeh, meanwhile, will hope that matchday three was an anomaly and set about winning all three points from this clash or see their dreams of progressing grow bleaker.
Venue: Bahrain National Stadium, Manama
Kick-off: April 4, 18:45 UTC+3