Solo: Ashfaq Ali scored five goals as Maldivian champions New Radiant maintained their 100% record in Group F of the AFC Cup after posting a resounding 7-0 win over Indonesian Cup winners Persibo on Tuesday.
Umair Mohamed, who scored the only goal last week as New Radiant edged out Hong Kong’s Sunray Cave JC Sun Hei, opened the scoring at Manahan Stadium before Ali extended the advantage before half-time.
Ali quickly completed his hat-trick inside the first 15 minutes of the second half before adding two further goals either side of a strike from Ali Umar as Persibo suffered a second defeat of the campaign after losing 3-0 to Myanmar National League champions Yangon United at the end of February.
New Radiant coach Velizar Popor was understandably delighted with the victory, which was the club’s biggest in five appearances in the competition.
“I am proud of my players who struggled hard to win the game by a big score,” said the Bulgarian.
“This is the biggest victory that we have had outside the Maldives and it came about because our players showed tremendous discipline throughout the game.
“It is a great victory for the whole team and for our officials and supporters and the entire Maldivian community.”
New Radiant took the game to Persibo from the first whistle and opened the scoring after just 11 minutes as Ali charged forward after the home side gave away possession from a throw-in from inside before squaring for Mohamed to slide the ball into the roof of the net from inside the six-yard area.
The visitors continued to dominate and after both Fasir Ali and Mohamed hit the Persibo crossbar, New Radiant finally doubled their advantage 11 minutes before half-time as Ali timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap before coolly beating goalkeeper Happy Kurniawan.
And just five minutes after the break Ali added a second as the striker again raced clear of the Persibo defence before firing a low angled strike into the bottom corner.
Ali then completed his hat-trick eight minutes later as the striker picked himself up after being upended on the edge of the Persibo area before beating Kurniawan as his free-kick skipped off the damp surface before nestling in the bottom corner.
Umar got his name on the scoresheet six minutes after the hour mark after taking full advantage of a mistake by Persibo defender Tri Rahmad Priadi on the edge of his own penalty area.
Ali’s fourth arrived soon after as the striker again beat the Persibo offside trap with 20 minutes remaining and fired high into the net after taking his time to pick his spot with Kurniawan and two defenders on the goalline.
And after Persibo’s Edy Gunawan was sent-off for lashing out at New Radiant substitute Ahmed Thariq with 13 minutes remaining, Ali completed the scoring three minutes later as the striker again raced clear of the home sides defence before firing past Kurniawan.