Monday, December 12, 2016

Shabab Al-Khalil to face Al-Suwaiq for spot in AFC Cup

Al-Suwaiq: Oman Pro League Runners-up in 2015/16
The Asian Football Confederation has revealed, following a draw, that Shabab Al-Khalil will face Omani side Al-Suwaiq in the AFC Cup playoff stage.

Shabab Al-Khalil will host the first leg of the encounter on January 30th, 2017. The return is slated for Al-Seeb Stadium, the following Tuesday, February 7th.

In last year's edition, Omani clubs Fanja and Oruba travelled to Palestine meaning we are unlikely to see Shabab's home game moved to a neutral venue.

Al-Ahli and Al-Dhahrieh went undefeated against Omani opposition during that tournament. Securing 3-3 and 1-1 draws away while emerging victorious by scores of 2-1 and 2-0, respectively.

The winner of the match will progress to the group stages of the 2017 AFC Cup. The draw for the group stage is set for December 13th.

Al-Suwaiq have had a horrid time this season collecting a meager 13 points in the first half of the season from 13 games. At the time of writing they are hovering just two points above the automatic relegation places and a whopping 13 points back of leaders Al-Shabab Club.

For them to replicate their 48 point haul from last season they would have collect 35 of the 39 points on offer in the second leg of the season.

For their part, Shabab AL-Khalil have also gotten off to a wobbly start this season. After lifting silverware in the form of the Yasser Arafat Cup (a poisoned chalice of sorts as no team has won the preseason tourney and league in the same year), Shabab fired their coaching staff, and benched their star goalkeeper Toufic Ali.

Things have picked for Shabab since. A 3-0 win over leaders Thaqafi Tulkarem seemed to signal an end to their problems in front of goal.

More information on the 2017 AFC Cup draw can be found here.