AFC Champions League – Pakhtakor v. Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya

Pakhtakor v. Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (League Game) The first preliminary round was crazy! And in one of the more unique continental competitions we have not only one, but two preliminary rounds in this Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League. Unfortunately for the winner of this game, there’s still a playoff round to go in order to make the group stage.

Pakhtakor

FC Pakhtakor Tashkent is an Uzbek club that translates roughly to “the cotton growers.” Pakhatakor was established in 1956 under the then-Soviet Union where they became the only Uzbek club to play top-flight football in the Soviet Union. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union (and the formation of the Uzbekistan top-flight in 1992), Paktakor has won the lion’s share of hardware in the division. They’ve won 9 of their 11 Uzbek titles in the 2000s (the others came in the 90s — including the inaugural year of the league). In addition to their league titles, they also have 11 cup wins, with two additional finishes as the runner up. I think it’s safe to the call them a powerhouse in this league.

The 2018 domestic league had Pakhtakor finishing with the number one overall position. However, the ended up with a second place finish in the Championship round guaranteeing them a spot in the AFC Champions League 2nd Preliminary Round. In the (Uzbek) Superliga, Pakhtakor amassed 47 points in 22 games (2.14 points per game) on 1.6 goals scored per game while conceding only 0.55 goals per game. They struggled (if you can call it that) some away from home where they just received 18 points (compared to the 27 at home), and they suffered both from more concessions and less scoring.

Unlike most of the clubs profiled thus far in the AFC Champions League, Pakhtakor has competed regularly since its inception. Their highest achievement to date in the AFC Champions League is consecutive semi-final finishes in 2003 and 2004. Pakhtakor is the home side in this draw which their fans will be excited about because they’ve been exceptionally good at home (averaging 2.6 points per game at home). While scoring two goals per game at home, they are allowing less than 0.33 concessions per game.

Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya

Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya is the Air Force Athletic Club of Baghdad in Iraq; they began competing in 1931 under a different name and are the oldest club in Iraq. There are only 4 non-Iraqi players and the official owner of the club is the Ministry of Defense. Since the leagues inception nearly 75 clubs have played in the top-tier, only eleven have won a title. The club being covered is not only one of those winners, but has the second most league titles won (with 6). In addition the club was one of the founders of the Iraqi Premier League and has not been relegated since the founding in 1974.

The 2017-2018 season is the determinant for the AFC Champions League, and Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya finishes second place. On the season they averaged more than 1.7 goals per game compared to 0.7 goals conceded. This year, in the domestic league, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya is actually in 4th place trailing by 8 points although they have one less game played.

Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya have taken part in the AFC Champions League three times since its inception. However, they have failed to advance beyond the group stage in any of the years. Thus far in the season, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya has the second best away form in the league dropping only 5 points from 7 games. They are averaging 1.4 goals per game on the road, along with a concession rate of about 0.6 goals per game. So far this season they have already dropped 6 points in their 6 games at home. This is one time the club might not begrudge an away draw.

What to expect

Neither club are prolific scoring sides, and they concede less than one goal a game. I’m inclined to lean towards the home side from Uzbekistan because of their slightly higher goal scoring record. But I am by no means writing off the Iraqi side who have phenomenal goal scoring record. I think this will be a tight affair with Pakhtakor likely to edge it — my gut tells me it’ll be a one goal differential.

Both clubs will be hoping to advance to the playoff round, after which they’ll finally be safely into the group stage. The winner of this matchup will face the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Al-Nasr which doesn’t set up as an easy game either.

Last Updated: Friday 8, 2019

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