Ahmed Akaichi’s second half goal steered Kuwait SC to a 1-0 win over Al Faisaly of Jordan, sealing them a place in the 2021 AFC Cup West Zonal Semi-finals as Group C winners on Thursday.
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Kuwait SC will play Jordan’s Al Salt, who advanced as the best second-placed team, in the West Zonal semi-finals while Lebanon’s Al Ahed will face Al Muharraq of Bahrain.
With the two sides going into the game separated by two points, three-time champions Kuwait SC needed a win to snatch the lead of the group and they duly delivered against a host side that lacked the clinical efficiency needed to secure the points.
The first major piece of action in the game came quarter of an hour in, when Moustapha Sall brought down Yousef Naser on the edge of the area with the resulting free-kick being headed back across the area, before being cleared by the defense.
Five minutes later, Tunisian forward Akaichi hit the outside of the net after some slick link-up play between a number of Kuwait SC players that eventually culminated in the ball reaching him via a Faisal Al Harbi headed pass, though at a very tight angle to the goal. Ahmed Ersan replied at the other end with a long range shot that marginally missed the target.
With five minutes of play to go before the end of the first period of play, Kuwait SC’s Rami Bedoui rattled the bar after Sami Al Sanea, a scorer in the previous game, looped in a perfect corner.
The Kuwaitis opened the scoring within a minute of the start of the second half through Akaichi (pictured below, left), who rose highest to meet a perfectly weighted Naser cross from the right flank and swiftly headed into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Al Faisaly came agonisingly close to going level when a corner routine was played out from the left flank, resulting in a cross that Muhammad Zureigat met near the far post but headed into the side netting.
The result means Kuwait SC progress to the West Zonal semi-finals, while Al Faisaly await the remaining games of the day to find out their status.
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