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Mumbai City face Air Force Club challenge in AFC Champions League
11 Apr 2022

NEW DELHI: After a tough opening fixture in their maiden AFC Champions League campaign, the Islanders turn their attention to Matchday 2. Mumbai City FC will be in action against Iraq’s Air Force Club in their second Group B game at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia tomorrow at 8:15 PM AST (10:45PM IST).

Making their bow at Asia’s premier club competition, Mumbai City faced Al Shabab in their Group B opener. The Islanders displayed positive attacking intent along with resolute defending in the opening exchanges of the first half but were pegged back after a controversial penalty call in the favour of the de-facto hosts. Argentine icon Ever Banega converted from the spot to give Al Shabab the lead going into the break after what was an otherwise positive first half from Des Buckingham’s side against a strong opposition.

The second half continued in similar fashion with the Islanders soaking pressure from the Saudi club while creating chances of their own. But two momentary lapses of concentration meant Al Shabab netted two more times in the second 45 with Ever Banega securing his brace and substitute Turki Al-Ammar bagging his side’s third, both from the edge of the box.

With the night ending 0-3 for the Islanders at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium, the scoreline may not have done justice to the resolute shown by Des Buckingham’s side but there were plenty of positives to take into tomorrow’s game 2 of the 2022 AFC Champions League.

Opposition Report

Air Force Club, or Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya as they are also known, are a club with tremendous continental pedigree. The Baghdad-based side are seven-tine champions of the Iraqi Premier League, five-time Iraqi FA Cup winners and most notably, three-time winners of the AFC Cup, winning the continental competition three years in a row from 2016 to 2018. The Iraqi side won their first AFC Cup in 2016 by beating fellow Indian Super League side Bengaluru FC by a narrow 1-0 margin in the Final.

Air Force Club secured their place in the 2022 edition of the AFC Champions League by virtue of winning the 2020-21 Iraqi Premier League and enter the competition under head coach Hakeem Shakar. Although Air Force Club have participated in the Champions League on six previous occasions, they have never gone beyond the Group Stage of the competition.

Nicknamed The Falcons, Air Force Club currently sit in third place in the 2021-22 Iraqi Premier League and are unbeaten in nine games. The Iraqi side opened their Group B campaign in the 2022 AFC Champions League with a 2-1 win over UAE’s Al Jazira with Hussein Jabbar and Ali Kazem among the goals.

"We’re going to come up against a good side who picked up a fantastic win last night (against Al Jazira) but it’s a challenge we are ready for," said Mumbai City head coach Des Buckingham.

Midfielder Apuia Ralte added, "It will be tough game because they (Air Force Club) have a lot of experience in AFC competitions. It’s a great opportunity for us to show ourselves and we’ll give everything to win this game."

Where To Watch

The game will kick off at 8:15 PM AST (10:45 PM IST) and will be broadcast on the Star Sports 3, Disney+ Hotstar, and Jio TV for all viewers in India.

(Report courtesy: MCFC)

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