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Al Ahed's Khalil named MVP

Kuala Lumpur: As Lebanon’s Al Ahed FC celebrated a historic AFC Cup triumph, goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil was rewarded for a superb individual campaign with the 2019 AFC Cup’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Khalil’s honour came after his Al Ahed side defeated DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC 1-0 in Monday’s final at Kuala Lumpur Stadium to become the first Lebanese club in history to lift the AFC Cup.

"I thank my teammates, the whole tournament we fought as one and we got what we wanted, the trophy.

"I am very grateful to win the MVP as it is very difficult for a goalkeeper to win this award. I have to thank my teammates and coaches. Hopefully, we can come back next season and defend the AFC Cup," said Khalil.

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To say Khalil has been a safe pair hands throughout Al Ahed’s run to Asian glory would be a vast understatement.

The 28-year-old shot-stopper has been the epitome of dependable, bordering on unbeatable for Bassem Marmar’s side in an 11-match campaign where he conceded just three goals and kept nine clean sheets.

The Lebanese international conceded group stage goals against Oman’s Al Suwaiq and Malkiya Club of Bahrain but has not been beaten since, registering five consecutive clean sheets in the knockout stage as Al Ahed went unbeaten throughout the tournament.

While rarely tested in Monday’s decider, the man known as ‘The Mountain’ played a pivotal role throughout a campaign which began in late February, emerging as the outstanding player in the year’s competition.

Also on Monday, Al Ahed’s list of honours grew further as they were awarded the AFC Cup Fair Play Award.

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