*** ----> Riffa set for AFC Cup knockouts | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Riffa set for AFC Cup knockouts

TDT | Manama                                                      

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Bahrain’s Riffa Club have stepped up their final preparations for their West Zonal semi-final clashes against Al Nahda of Oman in the 2023/2024 AFC Cup.

The match-up is a two-leg affair, with the two teams first squaring off on Monday night at Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Isa Town.

The game is scheduled for a 7pm kick-off. The return game will then take place at Sultan Qaboos Sport Complex in Muscat on February 19.

The winners of this West Zonal final four pairing will take on the victors of the other between Al Ahed of Lebanon and Al Kahrabaa Club of Iraq.

The first-leg of their encounter will be on Tuesday, also in Muscat, and then again on February 20 at Basra Inter national Stadium in Iraq.

The West Zonal final will then be played on April 16 and 23. Riffa booked their place in the AFC Cup’s knockout stages after finishing as winners of Group C in the preliminary round. Nahda, on the other hand, were the top-ranked squad from Group A.

Riffa have twice stumbled when left with one hurdle to the Final--first in the semis in 2010 on their competition debut to Al Qadsia of Kuwait, and then in the West Zone final last year to eventual champions Al Seeb Club of Oman.

The Bahrainis hope to make the title match this time round. Advance The West Zonal champions will advance to the AFC Cup final, scheduled for May 5.

There, they will take on the winners of the Inter-Zone final, to be played over two legs on April 17 and 24.

Three teams are already in the Inter-Zone semi-finals, with FC Abdysh-Ata of Kyrgyzstan taking on Taichung Futuro of Taipei, and Odisha FC of India facing the champions of the ASEAN Zone final. These matches are scheduled for next month.

Prior to those games, the ASEAN Zone champions will first need to be decided. In the ASEAN Zone semi-finals, taking place next week over single matches, Macarthur FC of Australia play Sabah FC of Malaysia, and Central Coast Mariners of Australia take on Phnom Penh Crown of Cambodia.

The AFC Cup is the annual continental club competition of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the continent’s top teams not competing in the AFC Champions League.

Riffa are the lone Bahraini outfit in this year’s tournament. They are looking to become only the second club from the Kingdom to win the tournament title.

Muharraq won the AFC Cup twice in the past, in 2008 and in 2021, and also finished as runners-up in 2006.