Al Suwaiq put one foot in AFC Cup group stage

Jaber Al Ajmi –
MUSCAT, JAN 23 –
Al Suwaiq took a huge stride towards the 2018 AFC cup group stage as they edged Hilal Al Quds 1-0 away in the first leg of their West Zone play-off on Monday.
Omani side Al Suwaiq controlled the match from start to finish.
Classy Oman national team winger Ali al Busaidy, who won man of the match prize, gave Al Suwaiq the lead after he brilliantly lobbed the ball over Hilal Al Quds’s goalkeeper Rami Hamadah in the 26th minute.
Al Suwaiq assistant coach Gheorghe Ciurea, who led the squad instead of the sick head coach Ilie Balaci, started with a 4-3-3 system that consisted of: Fayez al Rushaidi (GK), Mahmood al Mashaifri, Ahmed al Khamisi, AbdulAdheem al Ajmi, Hassan al Saadi, Basi Niang, Abdullah Ding, Yaseen al Shiyadi, Ali al Busaidy, Abdulaziz al Muqbali and Khalid al Hajri.
Ciure replaced recent departures Mohammed al Musalami and Harib al Saadi, who both moved to Emirates’ Al Jazeera Club with veteran AbdulAdheem al Ajmi and Yaseen al Shiyadi. Al Suwaiq were not affected by the absence of Harib and Mohammed as they benefited from the presence of six other national players who were part of champions Oman team during the recent Gulf Cup.
The efforts of experienced midfield maestro Abdullah Ding also helped Al Suwaiq to control the game without any serious threat from the hosts.
Man of the match Ali al Busaidy celebrated his birthday with the crucial goal and expressed his happiness in the victory during the post-match press conference. “We perfectly achieved our duties on the pitch as required from the coach. Me and the teammates are very happy with the final score.”
“The Palestine side was a tough opponent but we dealt with game very well and we deserved the win.”
“We dedicate these three points to our head coach Ilie Balaci and we hope him to recover soon and lead us next week in the second-leg,” he added.
The HM Cup champions will need a win or draw to join Dhofar into the group stages of the competition. If Al Suwaiq pass the play-offs, they will play in Group A which includes: Malkiya (Bahrain), Al Jazeera (Jordon) and Al Quwa Al Jawiya (Iraq). While Dhofar will play in Group C with Al Wahda (Syria), Al Ansar (Lebanon), and Al Faisaly or Al Wehdat (Jordon).