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Hotshots: Omar Khrbin (Al Hilal SFC) – 2017 AFC Champions League

Kuala Lumpur: Despite Al Hilal SFC losing out in the 2017 AFC Champions League final, striker Omar Khrbin emerged with his head held high following a campaign throughout which he had excelled in front of goal.

From a wonderfully astute finish in Abu Dhabi on Matchday Three to an equally memorable strike in the final against the might of Urawa Red Diamonds, Khrbin frequently proved unstoppable as the Syrian’s 10 goals saw him finish as the competition’s leading marksman – success powered by his unerring ability to be, more often than not, in the right place at the right time.

The livewire forward’s performances also ensured he was named the 2017 AFC Player of the Year – just reward for a season when he led the line superbly for Ramón Díaz’s charges.

With the latest edition of Asia’s premier club competition nearing its resumption, join as we take a trip down memory lane to relive Khrbin’s exploits and see exactly why he earned the title – AFC Hotshot.

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Goal #1 vs Al Wahda FSCC – Group Stage: March 14, 2017

Having been named as a substitute for Al Hilal’s opening two matches, Khrbin started and scored against Al Wahda on Matchday Three. With his side trailing 2-1 – and down to 10 men following Nawaf Al Abid’s dismissal – the Syrian struck to earn his side a point when he expertly rounded goalkeeper Rashed Ali before firing home to level matters at the Al Nahyan Stadium.

Goal #2 and #3 vs Al Rayyan SC – Group Stage: May 8, 2017

Al Hilal emerged as Group D winners following an entertaining 4-3 victory over Qatar’s Al Rayyan on Matchday Six – a match in which Khrbin struck twice. His first came courtesy of a smart finish after Nicolás Milesi’s initial header had been saved, while his second – which won the game – was an equally impressive close-range strike following a neatly worked corner routine on 84 minutes.

Goal #4 vs Esteghlal Khouzestan FC – Round of 16, 2nd Leg: May 30, 2017

Khrbin’s fine form continued into the knockout rounds where he scored in the second leg of the Round of 16 encounter with Esteghlal Khouzestan to help ease Al Hilal through to the quarter-finals. On this occasion, Khrbin – afforded far too much space – headed home Mohammed Al Burayk’s pinpoint cross at the far post. Al Hilal went on to seal a 4-2 aggregate success.

Goal #5, #6 and #7 vs Persepolis FC – Semi-finals, 1st Leg: September 26, 2017

Khrbin was making headlines once again in late September, this time thanks to his hat-trick against Persepolis in the first leg of the semi-finals. His first came via yet another header, while he turned home Salem Al Dawsari’s cross to double his tally on 54 minutes. He arguably saved his best to least however, a terrific drive from range to round off Al Hilal’s emphatic 4-0 win.

Goal #8 and #9 vs Persepolis FC – Semi-finals, 2nd Leg: October 17, 2017

Khrbin shone brightly yet again in the return fixture – scoring twice as Al Hilal qualified for the final. The fan favourite dinked home a first-half penalty after Salman Al Faraj had been upended in the area, before turning and unleashing a shot from 12 yards which gave custodian Alireza Beiranvand little or no chance in the 76th minute.

Goal #10 vs Urawa Red Diamonds – Final, 1st Leg: November 18, 2017

As the world watched on, Khrbin’s 10th and final goal of the campaign came in the first leg of the final against Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds. Having twice been superbly denied by visiting goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa, Khrbin – despite the close attention of defender Yuki Abe – found the target on 37 minutes with a consummate finish from close range.

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