Fanja looks to bounce back against Arbil in AFC Cup

A file photo from Fanja’s home game against Al Ahli Taiz last month

Domestic champion Fanja will be desperate for a home win when it faces top Iraqi side Arbil in a Group B game of the 2013 AFC Cup at the Seeb Sports Stadium on Tuesday. The match will kick off at 7.30pm.

Arbil, which was last year's runner-up in the competition, edged out Fanja 1-0 at the Francouse al Hareeri Stadium in its home match last week.

Hamood al Esry, Fanja's team manager, told Muscat Daily, “Last week's game in Iraq was close, we fought well against a strong Arbil team. We conceded a first-half goal in Iraq and then missed a few chances to equalise. But Tuesday's game will be different, with our fans behind us. We will go for victory.”

Arbil, which is unbeaten in the tournament, currently tops Group B with nine points, followed by Fanja on second place with six. Lebanon's Al Ansar is third with three points, while Al Ahli Taiz of Yemen is at the bottom without a point.

Fanja is coached by Spain's Hicham al Jadran, while Croatia's Rodion Gacanin is in charge of the Arbil team.

Fanja will miss its key defenders - Younis al Mushaifri, Mohammed al Mussallami and Mohammed Suwaid - due to injury. Esry said, “Mussallami picked up a muscle injury during our recent domestic league match against Dhofar, while Suwaid is still recovering from an injury he sustained a month ago. Also, our captain and striker Badr al Maimani is not fully fit. But then we have a good bench, which means our coach has plenty of options.”

Fanja coach Jadran said, “We are ready for the match against Arbil, who we respect a lot as they produced a good performance in the match last week. I hope my players will follow my instructions and will put up a good show.”

Arbil coach Gacanin said, “The match against Fanja will be tough as we are looking to sustain our good performance in the competition. Both teams will be looking to win.”

Meanwhile, Dhofar will play Iraqi side Duhok in an away Group C game on Wednesday. Duhok leads the points table on better goal-difference ahead of Jordan's Al Faisaly and Dhofar.

All the three teams are tied on six points each, while Shabb Ibb of Yemen is at the bottom without a point.

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