On a pitch resembling something between a cow pasture and a potato field, WBPL champions Hilal Al-Quds raced to an early lead against Al-Ahed but were left ruing missed chances. The current holders of the competition struck twice in the second half to secure a come from behind 2-1 victory.
The quality of the pitch at the Camille Chamoun Stadium in Beirut was the main talking point as both sides struggled to preform the basics on the bumpy and slippery surface.
For not the first time this season, Hilal struggled to finish opportunities and are still struggling in attack following the departure of Oday Dabbagh. The Palestinian leagues are not known for developing high quality #9s and Hilal have been trying to find a way to compensate for the lack of options at that position.
🎥 WATCH | Defending champions bounce back to seal victory in their #AFCCup2020 opener! pic.twitter.com/JaDdBM6ZFa— #AFCCup2020 (@AFCCup) February 10, 2020
On a positive note, new arrivals Faiq Mahamid- who scored the opener in the 15th minute and Mahmoud Awesat have given the capital city side new life. Hilal were way better in comparison to the two drab encounters the team put together against Sur SC in the qualification phase.
That said, defensive lapses cost them dearly despite Rami Hamadi making several positive interventions. The hope for Hilal Al-Quds is that performances should get better with the return of Mohammed Darweesh to full health and with added time to integrate new arrivals during the winter transfer window.
In other AFC Cup matches involving Palestinian players, Matías Jadue was a late injury scratch as Ho Chi Minh City FC battled back to secure a 2-2 draw with all goals coming in the first half.
Over in the West Zone, Oday Dabbagh started and played 62 minutes for Kuwaiti side Al-Qadsia who triumphed 2-1 over Bahraini league runners up Al-Rifaa.
Islam Batran who is on the books of Al-Jazeera remains on strike awaiting over $25,000 in unpaid wages. The Jordanians suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of Dhofar in the opening match day of their 2020 AFC Cup campaign.