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Maldives' Ali Ashfaq wins AFC Cup Bracket Challenge


Kuala Lumpur: Ali Ashfaq has won the AFC Cup Bracket Challenge, with the Maldives icon garnering 89 percent of the votes to defeat Hong Kong's Chan Siu Ki.

Arguably the finest player the Maldives has ever produced, Ali Ashfaq's wonder goal in 2013, scored in Indonesia against Persibo Bojonegoro, emerged top of the 32-goal AFC Cup Bracket Challenge.

A stunning solo goal, having already rounded the 'keeper it appeared Ashfaq had an easy tap-in, but the striker seemed intent on tormenting the Persibo backline, twisting one way and then the next before coolly finishing into the centre of the goal for a memorable effort that Asia's football fans clearly haven't forgotten.

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Ashfaq paid tribute to those who voted for him, describing the goal as one of the best of his career.

"I want to thank all my fans in Asia who have voted for me. Special shout out to my Maldivian supporters who have made this possible with the grace of Allah. Without their love and support, I wouldn’t be the man I am today," said Ashfaq to the-AFC.com.

"It was a wonderful goal that I was able to score in a game where we were playing really well. The moment I got the ball, I had only one thing on my mind - to score."

"I wanted to make sure that I scored and (wanted) to have a bigger target to aim to make sure. Once I got into the penalty area, the defenders were in panic and that was a huge advantage for me. When I was sure, only (then) I decided to shoot.

"I think (it is) probably the first or second best goal I have scored. Definitely the best dribbled goal I scored from inside the penalty area. It is such a huge moment in my long career to be recognised by my fans and colleagues.

"The reason I do this is to do what I love and to bring joy to others to enjoy the goals with me," said Ashfaq, 35.

In the early rounds of the bracket challenge, Ashfaq defeated Kuwait SC's Rogerinho and Abahani Limited Dhaka's Sohel Rana to reach the quarter-finals before gaining an incredible six-figure numbers in the voting to see off Hanoi FC duo Nguyen Van Quyet and Nguyen Quang Hai as the Maldives got fully behind one of their footballing heroes.

In the final, Ashfaq saw off the challenge of Hong Kong's Chan Siu Ki, whose wonderful strike for South China AA versus Malaysia's Pahang FA in 2013 had taken him to the competition climax.

Ashfaq's triumph concludes the AFC Cup Bracket Challenge, which saw 32 goals from the past decade scored by some of the competition's finest being contested.

The-AFC.com thanks the millions of fans who cast their votes.

Click HERE to see the result.

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