Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya and Al-Zawraa both kicked off their AFC Cup campaigns with draws today. Jawiya drew 2-2 with Jordanian side Al-Jazeera in a game which saw a lot of drama, while Al-Zawraa drew 1-1 with Lebanese side Al-Ahed in Beirut.
The two-time winners and defending champions Jawiya played their match in Doha, and the man who took all the headlines there was Malaysian referee Noor Mohamed. In the 16th minute, he awarded Jawiya a penalty, sending off Al-Jazeera’s goalkeeper in the process, and 10 minutes later he awarded Al-Jazeera a penalty for a very similar foul, this time sending off Jawiya’s keeper Fahad Talib. Both penalties were converted, by Hammadi Ahmed and Musa Al-Taamari respectively. The game remained even with both teams having plenty of chances, before Jawiya’s new signing Salih Sadir fired what we all thought would be the winner in the 84th minute with a brilliant strike. However, the referee pointed to the spot for the third time in the 88th minute, awarding the Jordanians a second spot kick which was tucked away by Mardik Mardikian.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Premier League leaders Al-Zawraa also dropped two points in their first game against Al-Ahed. The Gulls took the lead in the 4th minute with a shot from long range by Safaa Hadi. The Lebanese side had a chance to equalise when Hussein Jwayed fouled Ahmed Zreik in the box, but Jalal Hassan saved the penalty. The hosts scored the equaliser in the second half through Aissa Yakubu’s header in the 66th minute. The same player was sent off with seven minutes to play but Al-Zawraa could not take advantage of the extra man, and the match finished 1-1.
Al-Zawraa will face Syrian side Al-Jaish on February 26th, while Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya will play Sultan Qaboos Cup winners Al-Suwaiq on the same day. To follow all the action from both games, follow us on Twitter: @SoccerIraq!