Japan defeated Uzbekistan and qualified from the first place to the next round. A dramatic goal by Oman in the 94th minute brought them to the round of 16.
Japan kicked off their Asian Cup campaign with an impressive performance. Hector Cúper and Uzbekistan are not looking good quite yet.
They have won 5 out of the last 7 tournaments, they are on the top of Asian football and you can even find some rising teams. This is the Eastern Asia team-by-team preview for the Asian Cup.
It's the middle of March. In some leagues, you can hear the final whistle behind to corner. For others, this is the whistle for the kick off. In this Weekend Guide you’ll see both – a top match from Albania, another interesting visit to the CAF Champions League and the first match of the Turkmen league.
(All the hours are in CET local time)
Amateur (Like this penalty)
What? Partizani – Skënderbeu (Albanian Superliga)
When? Monday, 1900
Where? Qemal Stafa Stadium, Tirana
Why? Everyone can feel the tension as we are getting closer to the end of the season and there’s a match for the title. Skënderbeu, the Albanian champions since 2011, will travel as the league leaders to Tirana. There they will play against Partizani, which in 2nd place with 5 points less.
Key Players: In Partizani, the main player will be Xhevahir Sukaj, who played in Iran in the past three years and scored 12 goals this season. From the other side, Skënderbeu will focus on Hamdi Salihi, who played in Austria, USA and China and now he´s the league’s top scorer with 21 goals.
Support of the Fans: Partizani's Arbnor Fejzullahu got his first call up to the national team in an interesting way. He was invited to a training camp for diaspora Albanian players after a recommendation by Jetmir Salihu, a member of the national team fan club.
Professional (like this goal)
What? APR – Young Africans (CAF Champions League)
When? Saturday, 1430
Where? Amahoro Stadium, Kigali
Why? It always great to see two minor teams facing each other, knowing that one of them will progress to the next stage in a continental tournament. APR, the champions of Rwanda, will try to pass through the first stage for the first time since 2004. The Tanzanian champions, Young Africans, recall their history with two appearances in the Champions Cup quarter finals in 1969 and 1970.
Key Players: Watch for APR's Abdul Rwatubyaye, the main player of his club that scored decisive hat-trick in the previous round. In Young Africans you can find Nizar Khalfan, former Vancouver Whitecaps player with 43 international caps for Tanzania.
Transnational Legend: One of the biggest names in the history of Young African was born in Burundi, played for short time in Tanzania and was part of DR Congo national team. Yes, we're talking about Shabani Nonda.
World Class (like this goal)
What? Altyn Asyr – Balkan (Turkmenistan Yokari Liga)
When? Saturday, 1100
Where? Ashgabat Stadium, Ashgabat
Why? It’s a new season in Turkmenistan and the biggest match-up of the league is here. Altyn Asyr, the champions of the two previous seasons will try to win their third title in a row. Balkan were the runner-ups, but they wish to be much closer than a gap of 24 points like in the last season.
Key Players: Ahmet Ataýew, Altyn Asyr midfielder and the national team captain, was last season league MVP, so he definitely will be a guy to watch for. Balkan's Ýagmyrmyrat Annamyradow is one of the veteran players in the league and was part of Balkan winning squad in 2013 AFC President's Cup.
The Key to Success: Ýazguly Hojageldyýew, Altyn Asyr manager, led Turkmenistan national team to their biggest achievement, finalists of the AFC Challenge Cup in 2010 and 2012.