AFC President praises Saudi Arabia for claiming U-19 crown
Kuala Lumpur: AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Saudi Arabia on clinching the AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018 title after the West Asians defeated Korea Republic 2-1 in an enthralling final at the Pakansari Stadium, Bogor, Indonesia on Sunday.
In the two finalists, alongside Japan and Qatar, Asia will be represented by four seasoned challengers in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland in May next year, who have collectively featured on the grand stage on 34 occasions.
Shaikh Salman said: “The AFC U-19 Championship in Indonesia has been an incredible success and I want to congratulate Saudi Arabia for shining the brightest amidst a remarkable cast of Asia’s future stars. We must also commend Korea Republic for showing great resolve and character throughout the tournament.
“Along with Japan and Qatar, Asia has four remarkable teams that I am confident will strive to make us proud in Poland.
“Saudi Arabian Football Federation deserves our praise for producing Continental champions who will inspire our youths and instil the desire and willingness to succeed on the world’s biggest stage.”
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The AFC President also praised the Local Organising Committee for staging a truly memorable tournament which saw the host nation reach the final eight for the first time in 40 years.
The AFC U-19 Championship Indonesia 2018 was the perfect showcase of the Continent’s undeniable passion for football after fans came out in full force to set two new milestones in attendance records.
The first was set when 38,271 fans witnessed Indonesia’s epic battle against Qatar before a record-breaking 60,154 fans turned the Gelora Bung Karno into a spectacular sight despite their defeat to Japan in the quarter-finals.
“The AFC has made clear our ambitions to confirm football as the number one sport in Asia and there are only a few places in the world which can match the passion for football that exists in Indonesia.
“I am pleased to see the positive impact of the AFC’s competitions in strengthening the foundations for the PSSI and Indonesian football to scale even greater heights,” added Shaikh Salman.
The Gelora Bung Karno Stadium has now set the stage for two attendance records in as many AFC competitions in the same year, after 60,157 fans witnessed Persija Jakarta’s victory over Johor Darul Ta'zim in the AFC Cup in April.
The fervour and excitement were also echoed off-the-pitch with engagement figures on the AFC digital platforms peaking at an all-time high. The AFC’s Facebook page surged by 242 percent from the last tournament, garnering over 14.4 million impressions, 10.3 million reach and 1.9 million video views.
The AFC’s Instagram account received a similarly overwhelming reception, with 24.1 million impressions and 2.1 million likes. The AFC’s Twitter account also continued to defy all expectations with 7.7 million impressions, 117 percent higher than the 2016 edition.