Al Nahda’s Thrilling Comeback Seals AFC Cup West Zonal Semifinal Victory

In a gripping encounter at the Sultan Qaboos Sport Complex, Oman’s Al Nahda staged a comeback to defeat Bahrain’s Al Riffa 3-1 after extra time, securing a 4-2 aggregate victory in the AFC Cup 2023/24 West Zonal Semi-final on Monday.

Despite Al Nahda’s early attempts to control the game, Al Riffa defended resolutely, leading to the visitors taking control of the first half. A pivotal moment arrived when Al Riffa’s Jaco missed a golden opportunity from an in-swinging corner, but soon after, Ali Hasan Isa found the net, putting Al Riffa in the lead.

Al Nahda responded in the second half, leveling the score before the 60th minute. Walter Bwalya’s superb half-volley found the far corner, leaving Al Ajmi helpless. Al Riffa’s Jaco had a chance to regain the lead, but his powerful header hit the post.

The game intensified as Al Nahda’s Issam Al Sabhi’s shot was saved by Al Ajmi, denying Inters Gui from a close-range follow-up. With no breakthrough in regulation time, Al Nahda seized control in extra time. Al Sabhi’s attempt, although off target, set up Hammoud Al Saadi for a close-range header, putting the hosts in front.

Two minutes into the second half of extra time, Al Nahda secured the victory. Al Sabhi, this time, scored himself, perfectly timing his run to intercept the ball from the goalkeeper and calmly slotting it into the net.

Al Nahda’s triumph in the West Zonal Semi-final means they advance to the two-leg West Zonal final in April, where they will face either Iraq’s Al Kahrabaa Club or Lebanon’s Al Ahed FC. The dramatic win showcased Al Nahda’s resilience and determination on their journey in the AFC Cup 2023/24.

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