AFC CUP: GROUP A: Suwaiq’s dismal AFC Cup campaign continues with fifth straight defeat
Omantel League leader Al Suwaiq’s dismal campaign in the 2018 AFC Cup continued as the ten-man Omani club suffered its fifth straight defeat, 1-2, at the hands of Bahrain’s Al Malkiya Club at the Seeb Sports Stadium, on Tuesday.
Suwaiq, which is out of reckoning for a next round berth, was reduced to ten man following the dismissal of Omar al Fazari in the 65th minute.
Ahead of Tuesday’s penultimate Group A match, Al Suwaiq had lost its previous four games in the tournament, which is the second-tier Asian club competition. The defeat against Al Malkiya also equalled its worst-ever run of consecutive losses in the competition (five in 2009). The loss also meant that Suwaiq has failed to win in its last eight home games in the AFC Cup, extending its longest-ever home run without a win in the continental club competition.
Malkiya's win, meanwhile, kept its hopes alive of qualifying to the next round.
On Tuesday, Suwaiq could have gone ahead early in the match when Mahmoud al Mushaifri found space down the right side to cross for Mohsin al Ghassani, whose first-time effort cannoned off the post in the 11th minute to the dismay of the home crowd.
It was the Bahraini visitors who broke the deadlock a minute later in an identical fashion. Hashim Isa showed composure to finish Waleed Abdulrahman’s cross from the right wing past hosts’ goalkeeper Faiz al Rusheidi for his third goal in the competition.
Suwaiq had to wait till the hour-mark to get its equaliser when Abdulaziz al Miqbali embarked on a solo run and made his way past three Malkiya defenders before his fellow Omani international Khalid al Hajri latched onto the ball and applied a composed finish to equalise for the hosts.
An off-the-ball challenge from Fazari saw the Omanis reduced to ten men after the midfielder was shown the red card by the Uzbek referee Sherzod Kasimov.
Malkiya took advantage of its numerical superiority and grabbed the winner in the final minute of regular time after Syrian midfielder Israa Hamwia was brought down inside the box. Hamwia stepped up and converted from the spot to earn the Bahraini club its second win of the campaign.
In another Group A match, two-time champion Air Force Club of Iraq secured a 1-1 draw against Jordan’s Al Jazeera.
Following the draw, Jazeera leads the group with 11 points from five games while Air Force Club has eight but with a game in hand. Malkiya has six from four games.