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Ahli, Wihdat look for regional titles

By Aline Bannayan - Dec 17,2016 - Last updated at Dec 17,2016

AMMAN — Two Jordanian football teams are readying for the start of the 2017 regional agenda alongside aspirations for the professional league title, currently under way.

As league champs, Wihdat will play the 2017 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Champions League — the premier Asian competition. But they will have to go through two preliminary round matches starting January 31, 2017, against India's Bengaluru FC and UAE's Wihda to move to Round 1.

Wihdat were Jordan's representative in the 2016 ACL edition and were knocked out in the preliminary round by Saudi Arabia's Ittihad Jeddah. In 2015, they lost to former titleholders Kuwait's Qadissieh. In 2014, Shabab Urdun were eliminated by Bahrain's Al Hidd.

If Wihdat advance past the ACL preliminary round, Jazira will join Jordan's reigning Jordan Cup champs Ahli in the AFC Cup, the second-tier Asian club competition. On the other hand, should Wihdat be again eliminated from the ACL early round, they will move to play in the AFC Cup alongside Ahli who will be playing the event for the first time.

Ahli were drawn to play in Group C alongside Iraq's Zawra, Syria's Jeish and a qualifier from Oman or Palestine starting February 20, 2017.

The local season opened with Ahli making history when they beat reigning league champs Wihdat 2-1 to win the 34th Super Cup — the first major competition on the 2016/17 football calendar. Although they are a founding member of the game in Jordan, they had never won the Super Cup. 

They were relegated to Division 1 in 2004 for the first time in their history and were back among the Pro League clubs in 2014, finished 5th in 2014/15 and third in 2015/16 in the Premier League when they were also the best overall team and won the Jordan Cup after years in the backstage. 

On the other hand, for the past three seasons, Wihdat  have won the league title for the 15th overall time since they moved up to the Professional League in 1975. 

The AFC Cup will have clubs from across the continent competing in 8 groups from the 5 Asian Zones with the top two from each group going on to the Round of 16. 

In 2016, Jordanian clubs were absent from advanced stages of Asian competitions as Wihdat and Faisali  were knocked out of the AFC  Cup Round  of 16.  

In 2015, Wihdat and Jazira were also out in Round of 16 with Jazira, who finished runner-up in the Jordan League,  participating in the event after two-time AFC Cup champs and Faisali declined. 

In 2014, Jordan Cup champs That Ras exited the Round of 16 in their inaugural AFC participation while former AFC Cup champs Shabab Urdun exited in Round 1. 

 

The second-tier Asian club competition was won by Syria's Jeish in its inaugural edition in 2004. The event was won three times by Jordanian teams: Faisali won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006 and Shabab Urdun in 2007.

 

Jordanian teams competing in AFC Cup:

2005Faisali, Hussein 

2006Faisali, Wihdat 

2007Faisali Wihdat, Shabab Urdun 

2008Wihdat, Shabab Urdun 

2009Faisali, Wihdat 

2010Wihdat, Shabab Urdun 

2011Faisali, Wihdat 

2012Faisali, Wihdat 

2013Faisali, Ramtha 

2014That Ras, Shabab Urdun

2015Wihdat, Jazira 

 

AFC Cup Champions list

 

2004Jeish (Syria)

2005Faisali (Jordan)

2006 Faisali (Jordan)

2007Shabab Urdun (Jordan)

2008Muharraq (Bahrain)

2009Kuwait SC (Kuwait)

2010Ittihad Aleppo (Syria)

2011Nasaf Qarshi (Uzb)

2012Kuwait SC (Kuwait)

2013Kuwait SC (Kuwait)

2014Qadissieh (Kuwait)

2015Johor Darol Tazim (Malaysia)

2016Air Force Club (Iraq)

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