BAHRAIN champions Riffa bowed to Kuwait’s Qadsia SC 1-2 last night in the 2020 AFC Cup.
The match, which was the first for both teams in Group C of the competition, was played at the Khalifa Sports City stadium in Isa Town.
The AFC Cup is an annual continental club competition organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The competing teams are those who were unable to qualify for the AFC Champions League.
There are a total of 36 sides from all over Asia taking part in this year’s group stage, which is to decide 11 places in the knockout phase.
Riffa’s other opponents in Group C are Al Jazeera of Jordan and Dhofar Club of Oman, aside from Qadsia.
Bahrain has a second team in this year’s AFC Cup: Manama, who are in Group A. They had a goalless draw against Syrian outfit Al Jaish in their first fixture.
The other clubs in their pool are Hilal Alquds from Palestine and Al Ahed FC of Lebanon, who are the defending champions.
In Riffa’s loss last night, Qadsia’s Sultan Al Enezi opened the scoring in the 25th minute with a header from the centre of the box, which he sent to the bottom-left corner of goal. He was assisted by Saif Al Hashan, who supplied a cross following a corner.
That was enough for Qadsia to take a slim one-goal lead at the break.
In the second half, Riffa captain Komail Alaswad missed a golden opportunity to equalise when he was awarded a penalty after a foul in the penalty area by Qadsia’s Faisal Abdullah in the 52nd minute.
Alaswad took the spot kick but appeared hesitant with his shot, allowing Qadsia goalkeeper Khaled Al Rashidi to make a brilliant diving save.
Riffa paid for that mistake in the 71st minute when Adnan Alshirah fouled Qadsia’s Abdullah Mawi in the area, giving away a penalty this time for the Kuwaitis. Al Hashan made no mistake with his effort from the spot, as Riffa goalkeeper Abdulkarim Fardan guessed the wrong way.
The Bahrainis were given a glimmer of hope after star international midfielder Mohammed Marhoon scored in the 81st minute with a deflected shot from just outside of the box.
It wasn’t enough, however, in the end as Riffa could not find a leveller the rest of the way.
Riffa’s next game in the AFC Cup will be against Jazeera in Amman on February 25. Manama, on the other hand, play Ahed on February 24 at Khalifa Sports City.