Muscat, Feb 11 – Oman’s Al Suwaiq open their AFC Cup campaign in Bahrain when they play against Al Malkiya in the first round of the group stages. It kicks off at 19:15 at the Khalifa Stadium. The other two teams of Group A, defending champions Al Quwa Al Jawiya ( Iraq Air Force club) and Al Jazeera ( Jordan) will face off at 19:00 at Saoud bin Abdulrahman stadium, in Al Wakrah, Qatar. Al Suwaiq look in a fine touch to come back to Muscat with a positive score, due to the impressive performance they showed this season so far. They recently reached the group stage after overcoming Hilal Al Quds of Palestine 2-1 in aggregate. They also battle in all competitions this season and are leading the Omantel League standings with 37 points, and qualified to the quarterfinal of the HM’s Cup. Another advantage for Al Suwaiq compared with their competitors Al Malkiya, who will make their debut in the AFC Cup, is that they are not doing very well in the Bahraini League this season, staying in third place.
The Omantel League leaders, who have the best number of participation in the tournament amongst the teams of their group with six times, will hope to make this edition a remarkable or at least to reach the semifinal that Al Nahdha reached in 2008. “It’s a very important tournament for us and for the Omani football, but our focus is on every single game we face, either in OL, HM Cup, or in the AFC Cup,’’ Al Suwaiq manager Romanian Balaci told Oman Daily Observer. “I can say that we will target passing the group stage and then we will see how it works, but as I said earlier, we will take every single game in particular.“We don’t know much about the Bahraini team Malkiya, but we will play with our style of play which we always use to do in all competitions,’’ Balaci told reporters in Bahrain.
Jaber al Ajmi