Benfica de Macau have been attempting to qualify for the AFC Cup for 2 years now, their first attempt took place in 2016, and their second attempt was in 2017. Both those attempts ended in failure but Benfica de Macau were not to be deterred, and managed to enter the first round stage of the AFC Cup in 2018.
They were put into the East Asian zone group for the competition, the other three teams in the group are Taiwanese side Hang Yuen and the North Korean duo April 25th Sports Club and Hwaebul. The Macanese and Taiwanese sides were expected to prop up the group by making up the numbers as it’s both sides first venture into continental competition, but after a shaky first 45 minutes against Hang Yuen, Benfica de Macau haven’t looked back.
In that first half, they found themselves 2-0 behind and Taiwanese side Hang Yuen looked like they would be the likely winners between the tournaments debutants, but Benfica de Macau came out with fire in their eyes and threw everything at the Taiwanese side. They managed to come from behind and win the game 3-2 which was a massive result, but what happened in the next game was even more unexpected.
Benfica de Macau travelled away to Hwaebul in North Korea for their second group match, it was expected that the team from Macau would do well not to return with a heavy defeat. That was not to be the case, and Benfica de Macau managed to pull off an astonishing victory in the North Korean capital Pyongyang, with Carlos Leonel again amongst the goals with him becoming something of a revelation since the competition started.
That puts Benfica de Macau joint top of their group with North Korean heavyweights April 25th Sports Club, and Benfica will return back to Pyongyang to face them on the 25th April, which is a significant day for North Korea as this is army day with this day representing the formation of the North’s guerrilla army, which then transitioned into their regular army and this is also where April 25th Sports Club take their name from with them being the team representing the army.
Benfica de Macau have already been a massive surprise in this year’s AFC Cup, but if they come back from North Korea with another win, then one has to wonder how far into the competition can their momentum take them?