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Ahed knocked out of AFC Cup after losing 3-1 to Ettifaq.

Summary: Ahed were dumped out of the AFC Cup Tuesday after losing 3-1 to Ettifaq in Sidon.

BEIRUT: Ahed were dumped out of the AFC Cup Tuesday after losing 3-1 to Ettifaq in Sidon. But the Lebanese side would have failed to qualify from the group stage regardless of the result after Kuwait SC thrashed VB Addu 7-1 in Group C's other game.

Ahed fall out of Group C -- failing to match last year's achievement when the then-reigning Lebanese champions qualified for the second round -- having collected just seven points in six games, four less than second placed Kuwait SC and seven less than Tuesday's Saudi Arabian opponents Ettifaq.

Undoubtedly Ahed will look back on their 4-0 home defeat to Kuwait SC in the third game of the group stage as the turning point in the competition. At that point, Ahed had picked up four points with impressive performances against VB Addu at home and Ettifaq away. The 4-0 meant Ahed had to upset either Kuwait SC away from home or Ettifaq.

Ahmad Mubarak opened the scoring for Ahed in the 39th minute with a tame effort that crept past Ziad Samad at the near post before Saab al-Thiab doubled Ettifaq's lead after 89 minutes. Ahmad Zreik grabbed a consolation goal before Yehya Shehri finished off the game with a beautiful lob.

While Ahed's 2012 AFC Cup campaign is over, recently crowned Lebanese champions Safa can grab a place in the next round if they beat Al-Shorta away from home Wednesday.

A draw will not be enough to progress and Safa's coach Akram Salman will be without suspended striker Rony Azar as well as Khodr Salameh, Imad Miri, Hamze Abboud and Hayssam Atwi.

"We will go into the game with big concentration as our aim is to get a place in the knockout stage. We will try our best to use the good spirits of the players after winning the league title," said Safa team manager Youssef Baalbaki.

"Our main concentration was the league title and we have previously played against Al-Shorta. We know our opponents well and hopefully we can get a good result after the success that we had recently."

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7KUWA
Date:May 9, 2012
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