Al Quwa Al Jawiya performed a remarkable comeback as they turned around a 2-1 deficit deep into the second-half against Ahed in Lebanon to reach the AFC Cup final for the first time in their history.
Jawiya hope to become the first Iraqi side to win an Asian club tournament, previous efforts by Arbil, Al Shorta, Al Zawraa, Al Talaba and Al Rasheed have all been close but no galore throughout the past few decades.
Al Jawiya were matched up against 2015/16 Lebanese champions Ahed. They faced frustration in their first-leg at home in Doha. Syrian Zaher Midani put Jawiya ahead in the 24th minute with a long-range strike but Hussein Dakik finished off a smart free-kick routine to give Ahed an important away goal for their home tie in Beirut on the 19th of October.
The second-leg did not start well for the Iraqis as a high boot challenge by Samah Saeed resulted in a penalty that was converted by defender Nour Mansour in the 12th minute. Tournament top goalscorer Hamadi Ahmed added to his tally in the 24th minute, though, after Humam’s acrobatic effort was saved by the keeper with the rebound falling into the striker’s path.
However, a sweet bit of passing play by the Lebanese side was finished off with a powerful strike by Hassan Chaito to regain his side the advantage. As the game went on, the desperation was clear on Jawiya’s faces. And on the the 70th minute a free-kick by Bashar Rasen found it’s way into the back of the net after it was headed by Nour Mansour to square the game up. A counter attack eight minutes later saw the young winger through on goal again and Resan finished off crisply to all but seal the game for Al Jawiya. The player had a disappointing end to the night as he received a late sending off given by referee Perera, ruling the Iraqi out of the all important final.
The Iraqi Cup champions will hope to add the continental title to it’s already illustrious trophy cabinet. They will contest their match on the 5th of November against India’s Bengaluru FC.