September 23 – Kuwait SC in the AFC’s West zone and Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf in the Central zone will fill the two remaining regional final slots in the AFC Cup to be played in October.
Kuwait City dominated the first-half against Jordan’s Al Salt to set up the West zonal final against 2008 champions Muharraq Club of Bahrain.
Captained by former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel, Kuwait City took the lead inside 12 minutes with a goal by Faisal Al Harbi, before Congolese striker Dieumerci Mbokani doubled the score on 25 minutes, heading home Abdulmohsen Al Turkomani’s cross.
Al Salt, three-times AFC Cup winners, came back hard at Kuwait SC in the second half but it wasn’t enough.
FC Nasaf dominate
In the remaining Central zone semi-final in Karshi, Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf swept India’s ATK Mohun Bagan with a 6-0 win at Markaziy Stadium.
FC Nasaf will now meet Hong Kong’s Lee Man in AFC Cup Inter-Zone Final, for a spot in the AFC Cup final to be played in November.
The star of Nasaf’s performance was 19-year-old striker Khusain Norchaev (pictured) who scored a hat-trick in the first 32 minutes to rise to the top of the AFC Cup scoring charts. An own goal from Pritam Kokal and Oybek Bozorov’s tap in completed a blistering five-goal first half which delighted the home crowd. Substitute Doniyorjon Narzullaev added a sixth after the break.
Manager Ruzikul Berdiev attributed the win to the strength of the Uzbekistan Super League where Nasaf currently are placed fifth but 14 points off the league leagers. “(We face more competition) In the domestic championship,” he said at the post-match press conference. “Because the competition in our Super League is very strong. Some have said that the level of our championship has dropped, but if you look at this result, the level of our championship is much stronger.”
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