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Persipura end Kuwait two-yr Cup dominance a Ninh Binh exit AFC Cup despite win

JAKARTA, Aug 26, (RTRS): Kuwait Sports Club’s two-year dominance of the AFC Cup ended in spectacular fashion after they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Persipura Jayapura 8-4 on aggregate after losing 6-1 in Indonesia on Tuesday. The Kuwaiti side, winners of the last two editions of Asia’s second tier club competition, scored two late goals to snatch a 3-2 home win in last week’s first leg but their Indonesian opponents showed no let up in the return encounter on Tuesday.

Argentine Robertino Pugliara opened the scoring with a brilliant scissor-kick strike after two minutes and went on to complete a hat-trick for the Indonesian champions, who ran the defending champions’ backline ragged. Persipura were 3-0 up at the break after two from Pugliara and one from captain Boaz Solossa with Titus Bonai adding a fourth in the second period before Kuwait finally replied through Iranian World Cup striker Reza Ghoochannejhad. The goal left the tie at 6-4 with 25 minutes remaining and Kuwait needing two more to go through but those ambitions were quickly crushed a minute later when Pugliara completed his hat-trick with a curling finish.
 
A tired Kuwait side, clearly feeling the effects of the long journey across Asia, were reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes remaining when Fahad Hamoud was sent off as their discipline deserted them. It was a miserable showing for Kuwait, the competition’s most successful team having also won the trophy in 2009 and reached the final in 2011. Substitute Ferinando Pahabol then completed the rout in stoppage time as he burst through unchallenged for a sixth that made Persipura the first Indonesian side to reach the last four of the competition. Persipura will now aim to go one better and become the first side from outside West Asia to reach the final of the AFC Cup, which began in 2004.
 
Hong Kong side Kitchee did what a match-fixing scandal could not do and ended the AFC Cup run of Vietnamese side Vissai Ninh Binh at the quarter-final stage on Tuesday. Kitchee became the first team from Hong Kong to make it through to the last four of the second tier Asian club competition after prevailing 4-3 on aggregate but were given a scare at home by Ninh Binh, who won the second leg 1-0.
Nigerian striker Suleiman Oladoja scored the only goal after 28 minutes when he was on hand to divert the ball home after his team mate’s shot hit the post. Ninh Binh had chances to grab a second but Kitchee improved after the break and ran out winners to end the eventful run of the Vietnam side who overcame a match-fixing scandal to reach the last eight for the first time.
 
On Monday, a Vietnam court found nine former Ninh Binh players guilty of match-fixing after they colluded with a bookmaker to throw a group game in Malaysia in return for a $40,000 bribe. Former international Tran Manh was jailed for 30 months and eight other players were given suspended sentences. They had all long left the club, who promoted youngsters and brought in new players and continued their remarkable run in the competition after tournament organisers, the Asian Football Confederation, surprisingly allowed them to continue despite the scale of the issue. Ninh Binh will start next season in the third tier of Vietnam’s soccer league after the chairman pulled them out of the top division following the scandal which broke in April.

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