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KUWAIT CITY, Oct 22: Al-Arabi aims to achieve multiple objectives when they face Bahrain’s Riffa at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium tonight at nine o’clock. This clash marks the third round of the third group competitions in the AFC Cup.
Earlier in the evening, at seven o’clock, Iraqi side Al-Zawraa will lock horns with Lebanese team Al-Najma at Basra Stadium, both being part of the same competitive group. Currently, Al-Riffa leads the group standings with 4 points, narrowly edging out Al-Arabi based on goal difference.
Al-Zawraa followed in third place with one point, similarly determined by goal difference compared to Al-Najma. In this competition, Al-Arabi kicked off on the right foot, securing a 2-1 victory against Al-Zawraa and subsequently playing to a goalless draw against Al-Najma as their guests.
Al-Arabi is eager to capitalize on home advantage and the support of their fans to secure a victory that would enable them to seize the top position in the standings, distancing themselves from the shared leadership and making progress towards securing a direct qualification spot.
Moreover, they aim to replicate their previous victory over the Bahraini team, recalling the dramatic turnaround from a two-goal deficit to a valuable 3-2 win in the previous edition of the competition. Notably, Al-Arabi and Al-Riffa have clashed on five occasions, with four of those encounters taking place in the Gulf Club Championship.
Their history includes two draws with a scoreline of 1-1, while they exchanged wins in two matches, with Al-Arabi prevailing 2-1 and Al-Riffa securing a 2-0 victory. Despite Al-Arabi’s recent stability in terms of positive results domestically, they have been grappling with player absences, with key individuals like Khaled Khalaf missing the previous match against Al-Fahaheel.
Notably, Nigerian Anayo Iwala and Senegalese Mamadou Thiam were also absent, as well as Saif Al-Hashan. Furthermore, Salman Al-Awadi, Suleiman Abdul-Ghafour, and Sultan Al-Anazi have been serving suspensions imposed by the AFC due to events in the match between Al-Seeb and Oman in the last edition.
The suspensions of Al-Awadhi, Abdul-Ghafour, and Al-Enezi are set to conclude today, making them eligible to rejoin “Al-Akhdar” in the fourth round. Under the guidance of Bahraini coach Hisham Al-Mahoozi, Al-Riffa is determined to secure a positive result in today’s match, bolstering their chances of advancement before the next encounter between these two teams in early November.
Meanwhile , Al-Kuwait will be without the services of four key players in their upcoming match against Al-Ittihad Al-Ahly Aleppo of Syria, scheduled for tomorrow in the third round of the second group competitions of the AFC Cup.
The absent players include Ahmed Al-Dhafiri, Ali Hussein, Ahmed Al-Zenki, and Youssef Al-Khubaizi. Both Al-Dhafiri and Hussein are sidelined due to injuries sustained during their recent match against Khaitan last Friday in the fifth round of the Zain Premier League.
The coaching staff has decided to provide them with intensive medical treatment to aid in their recovery. Meanwhile, Al-Zenki is unavailable due to prior commitments, and Al-Khubaizi is unable to participate due to personal reasons. In addition to these absences, “Al-Abyad” will also be without the services of Youssef Nasser, goalkeeper Abdel-Rahman Kamil, and Ibrahim Kamil due to suspensions imposed by the AFC.
Furthermore, Amr Abdel-Fattah continues to be sidelined due to an ongoing injury. Al-Abyad currently holds the second position in the group with 4 points, with only a goal difference separating them from the group leaders, Al-Kahraba Al-Iraqi.
By Hassan Musa
Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff
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