Doha: Air Force Club from Iraq confirmed their place in the Round of 16 of the 2016 AFC Cup on Wednesday with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Palestine’s Al Dharia in Group C.
Hammadi Ahmed scored twice and there were further goals from Hussein Ali Wahid and Bashar Resan as Air Force picked up their fourth win in five games to move six points clear of second-placed Al Wahda. Ahmed Thiab claimed a late consolation for Al Dharia.
Al Wahda are in second on six points having played one game fewer than Air Force while Al Dharia remain in third, two points further back. Al Oruba of Oman are bottom of the standings, also with four points but having played five times.
Highlights and more after the jump….
“The win was very important for us because it secured our place in the knockout stage,” said Air Force coach Ali Hadi. “The good thing is that we are performing well in the competition and playing better than we are in the local league.
“This great win give us the confidence that we can go far in the competition. We played a good match and we were determined to take advantage of all the chances we created which helped us to get a big victory.”
Ali Hadi Mohsin’s side had few problems from the first whistle and it took just 10 minutes for Air Force to take the lead. Hussein Ali flicked the ball forward to Ahmed and he swept the ball past Al Dharia goalkeeper Waleed Khaisiya with his left foot for his first of the game.
Eleven minutes before half time Air Force doubled their advantage when Wahid struck after Tamer Shaikh Ahmed failed to deal with a cross from the left, allowing the striker to pounce.
Air Force went further ahead two minutes after the hour mark as Ahmed claimed his second, bundling the ball over the line from close range after Resan lifted his pass over the Al Dharia defence.
The Iraqis continued to push forward with Wahid hitting the crossbar with a 63rd minute header and, four minutes later, they went further ahead when they capitalised on a poor ball across the defence that allowed Wahid to set up Resan for the simplest of finishes.
Al Dharia salvaged some pride 10 minutes from time when Thiab finished off a rapid break by the Palestinians, cutting in on his right foot to shot beyond Fahad Talib and into the bottom corner.
“The defeat was big and wasn’t what we expected,” said Al Dharia coach Abdulfattah Arar. “Air Force surprised us with an early goal after only 10 minutes and I was hoping that the team would regroup. But we conceded a second before the end of the first half.
“We tried to improve and reduce the deficit but we failed to score with the chances we created. We made many mistakes in the second half which made our task harder and this gave the chance to Air Force to score more goals.”