AFC Champions League 2017 Matchday Four: West Zone preview

Published on: 08 April 2017

Kuala Lumpur: After taking a three-week break at the midway point of this season's AFC Champions League Group Stage, the 16 remaining West Zone teams return for Matchday Four and a crucial round of fixtures that kick off on Monday.

 Group B

The top two sides in Group B will go head-to-head on Monday as Esteghlal Khouzestan travel to Lekhwiya, while third-placed Al Fateh will look to close the gap on the leaders when they face bottom side Al Jazira.

Iranian champions Esteghlal Khouzestan have yet to lose on the continent but will face their toughest task yet in Doha, where they meet another unbeaten side in Lekhwiya after the pair drew 1-1 three weeks ago.

Al Fateh secured a first-ever AFC Champions League victory by seeing off Al Jazira 3-1 last time out and will know a win in Abu Dhabi would put them in a strong position with two group games remaining, while defeat for Al Jazira would confirm their elimination.

Lekhwiya (QAT) v Esteghlal Khouzestan (IRN)
Venue: Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, Doha
Kick-off: April 10, 18:30 UTC+3

Al Jazira (UAE) v Al Fateh (KSA)
Venue: Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Kick-off: April 10, 1945 UTC+4

Group D

Group D is shaping up to be a three-way battle for the top two positions as just two points separate table-toppers Al Rayyan and third-placed Persepolis, while Al Wahda prop up the standings and are in desperate need of a win against second-placed Al Hilal.

After suffering a 3-1 defeat to Al Rayyan three weeks ago, Persepolis will host the Qatari side in the reverse fixture on Monday knowing that victory this time out would see them leapfrog their opponents.

Al Wahda travel to Riyadh to face Al Hilal on the back of picking up their first point in Group D with a 2-2 draw against the Saudi side in mid-March and will be aware that anything but a win would all but end their continental campaign.

Persepolis (IRN) v Al Rayyan (QAT)
Venue: Azadi Stadium, Tehran
Kick-off: April 10, 19:00 UTC+4:30

Al Hilal (KSA) v Al Wahda (UAE)
Venue: Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
Kick-off: April 10, 20:00 UTC+3

Group A

After moving into pole position in Group A with a 2-0 victory over Lokomotiv three weeks ago, Esteghlal will look to at least maintain their two-point lead at the top the standings ahead of the return fixture in Tashkent on Tuesday.

Lokomotiv currently prop up the table but would move level with their opponents if they could make it two home wins from two in the continental competition.

Elsewhere, Al Taawoun and the United Arab Emirates’ Al Ahli are on four points apiece after the pair played out a scoreless draw in Dubai in mid-March and both will be aiming to solidify a top-two position ahead of the return clash in Buraidah.

Lokomotiv (UZB) v Esteghlal (IRN)
Venue: Lokomotiv Stadium, Tashkent
Kick-off: April 11, 16:00 UTC+5

Al Taawoun (KSA) v Al Ahli (UAE)
Venue: King Abdullah Stadium, Buraidah
Kick-off: April 11, 19:05 UTC+3

Group C

Finally in the West, top spot is up for grabs in Group C as 2016 AFC Champions League runners-up Al Ain host Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli on Tuesday with the Emiratis currently two points adrift of their table-topping opponents.

The sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Jeddah last month as both remained unbeaten at the midway point of the group stage.

Hot on their heels are Zobahan, who won 2-0 at Bunyodkor on Matchday Three and would give themselves a real chance of progressing to the knockout stage by completing a double over the Uzbek side, who could reignite their slim last 16 hopes with victory.

Zobahan (IRN) v Bunyodkor (UZB)
Venue: Foolad Shahr Stadium, Isfahan
Kick-off: April 11, 20:00 UTC+4:30

Al Ain (UAE) v Al Ahli (KSA)
Venue: Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
Kick-off: April 11, 19:35 UTC+4

Photo: Lagardère Sports