Suwaiq enters AFC Cup group stage

Al Suwaiq’s striker Abdulaziz al Miqbali (left) in action against Palestine’s Hilal al Quds at the Seeb Sports Stadium on Monday

Omantel League leader Al Suwaiq booked its spot in the group stage of the AFC Cup after winning the West Zone playoff against Palestine's Hilal Al Quds Club on Monday.

Suwaiq staved off a gritty challenge from the visiting Palestine club at the Seeb Sports Stadium as it was held to a 1-1 draw in the second-leg but the Oman club advanced on a 2-1 aggregate score.

In the first leg played on January 22, Suwaiq rode Ali al Busaidi's goal to get a crucial 1-0 away win at West Bank.

On Monday, Hilal Al Quds took lead in the 19th minute through Thamer Siam but Oman’s star forward, Abdulaziz al Miqbali, drew parity in the 69th minute.

Al Suwaiq is pooled in  Group A of the AFC Cup and will now take on Bahrain's Malkiya Club in its opening group match on February 12. The other two teams in the group are reigning champion Air Force Club of Iraq and Al Jazeera of Jordan. Defending Omantel League champion Dhofar is clubbed in Group C with Al Ansar of Lebanon, Syria's Al Wahda and either Al Wehdat or Al Faisaly of Jordan.

The 2018 season involves a record-breaking 44 clubs competing for the highest-ever prize purse in the history of the competition.

The winner of the 2018 AFC Cup will be rewarded with US$1.5mn, with the runner-up also receiving US$750,000.

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