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Faisali aim for Arab Clubs Championship title

By Aline Bannayan - Aug 05,2017 - Last updated at Aug 05,2017

AMMAN — Faisali play Esperance Tunis (Tarraji) in the final of the Arab Clubs Championship, which concludes in Alexandria, Egypt on Sunday.

It will be the second time the Jordanian team plays for the title of the elite Arab competition and observers are anticipating a hard-fought final.

Making it to the final was no easy feat and Faisali have been impressive since the first round when they topped Group A, after beating the UAE’s Wihdeh 2-1 and scoring 1-0 wins over Algeria’s Hussein Dey and hosts Egypt’s champion Ahli. 

In the semis, the Jordanian league and cup champs beat Egyptian giants Ahli 2-1 while two-time champs Esperance beat Morocco’s Rabat also 2-1 to advance in the other semifinal.

No Jordanian team has won the competition that kicked off in 1980 and had different competitions under five different editions. Faisali were runner- up to ES Setif in the Arab Clubs Championship in 2007, and were also runner-up in the Arab Super Cup in 1996. This year the winner will take home $2.5 million.

Twelve teams played in three groups, with Egypt’s Ahli finishing best runner up behind Faisali in Group A as Group B was led by Morocco’s Rabat which included Egypt’s Zamalek, Saudi Arabia’s Nasser and Lebanon’s Ahed while Tunisia’s Esperance topped Group C which included Sudan’s Marrikh, Saudi Arabia’s Hilal and Iraq’s Naft Al Wassat.

Faisali, had an exciting local season and now hope to take a regional title home. They are twice winners of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup, and did not compete on the Asian scene this year. The 2016/17 season competitions saw them combine the Jordan Professional Football League and Jordan Cup titles while Ahli beat Wihdat to win the 34th Super Cup, and Shabab Urdun won the Jordan Football Association Shield.

Wihdat, who this year settled for third in the league and failed to win even one of the four local competition titles, were eliminated from the 14th Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup semifinals.

Wihdat’s ambitions of competing among top tier Asian teams were dashed early when they were eliminated from the preliminary round of 2017 AFC Asian Champions League (ACL). Jordanian teams have never before made it past the ACL preliminary round. 

The Arab Clubs Championship is an annual regional club football competition organised by the Union of Arab Football Associations and contested by elite clubs from the Arab world. The tournament is played by teams from the Asian Football Confederation and Confederation of African Football, all of which are either winners or runners-up of their country’s league or cup competition.

Founded in 1980 as the Arab Club Champions Cup, the tournament’s first ever champions were Iraqi giants Al Shorta. Iraq’s Al Rasheed (Karkh) are the most successful club in the competition’s history.

 

Saudi Arabian clubs won the title eight times and Tunisian clubs five times. Since the tournament was merged with the Cup Winners’ Cup, only ES Sétif of Algeria have managed consecutive wins, successfully defending their title in 2008. The reigning champions are USM Alger from the 2013 final. After being put on hold for three seasons, the tournament has returned for the 2016–17 season.

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