Shabab Al-Khalil's potential AFC Cup group revealed
|Shabab Al-Khalil is loaded with Palestinian NT players|
It was announced yesterday that Shabab Al-Khalil would play Al-Suwaiq in a two legged play-off for a spot in the group stages.
Those matches are slated for Monday, January 30th and Tuesday, February 7th.
Shabab Al-Dhahrieh were the maiden AFC Cup participant losing on penalties in 2013 to Kyrgyz side Aly Osh in a preliminary playoff.
The following year, Taraji Wadi Al-Nes were granted direct access to the competition while Hilal Al-Quds entered in the playoff stage. Once again, a penalty shootout following a scoreless draw undid a Palestinian team and Syria's Al-Jaish progressed to the group stages.
Taraji Wadi Al-Nes fared better going undefeated at home (5/9 points) including a famous scalp of Iraq's Al-Shorta.
2016 saw two Palestinian sides participate in the group stage for the first time and while Ahli Al-Khaleel and Shabab Al-Dhahrieh's campaigns were mired by the AFC's inability to hold clubs who refused to travel to Palestine to task.
To make matters worse, eleven members of Shabab Al-Dhahrieh's squad were denied entry to Lebanon to play Syrian side Al-Wahda. For its part, the AFC administratively awarded both matches to Shabab Al-Dhahrieh but only after Al-Wahda had advanced to the Round of 16 and lost 4-0 to Al-Ahed of Lebanon.
Should Shabab Al-Khalil progress they will be placed in Group A alongside Iraqi League Champions Al-Zawraa, Jordanian Cup Champions Al-Ahli, and Syrian Champions Al-Jaish.
A rejig of the competition's format means that only four teams will progress from the three Western groups (as opposed to six).