AFC President congratulates Zonal winners
Kuala Lumpur: AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Hanoi FC on creating history by becoming the first Vietnamese side to clinch the AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal crown after they defeated local rivals Becamex Binh Duong 2-0 on aggregate on Wednesday in an all-Vietnamese ASEAN Zonal Final.
The AFC President said: “On behalf of the AFC football family, I would like to congratulate Hanoi FC for being the first side from Vietnam to capture the ASEAN Zone prize.
“Congratulations also to 4.25 SC from DPR Korea on becoming East Zone champions for the third consecutive time, Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr FC for clinching their second Central Zone crown and Abahani Limited Dhaka from Bangladesh for emerging as the South Zone Champions for the first time."
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“We have witnessed some incredible matches this year and the quality of performances continues to improve each year and we must praise all our teams and Member Associations for their commitment in raising the bar.
“I have no doubts that our passionate fans will experience even greater quality and excitement as we enter the next stage in the Inter-Zone and West Zone final and most importantly, the final where we will crown a new champion for the first time in four seasons.”
Hanoi FC’s spirited campaign underlines the remarkable rise of Vietnamese football in recent years with the Golden Stars creating history by reaching the final eight of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time earlier this year and their emerging stars finishing second in the most recent edition of the AFC U-23 Championship in China PR last year.
Standing in their way in the Inter-Zone Semi-final, however, are formidable challengers in last year’s runners-up, Altyn Asyr, in what promises to be a thrilling contest over two legs on August 20 and the return leg a week later.
The other Inter-Zone Semi-final will see Abahani Limited Dhaka taking on 4.25 SC, with the six-time Bangladesh champions hosting the first leg on August 21 before travelling to Pyongyang for the second leg on August 28.
The winners of the Inter-Zone Semi-finals will play the two-leg Final on September 25 and October 2 to decide which team advances to the AFC Cup final on November 2 against the West Zonal champions, where Jordan’s Al Jazeera battle Lebanon's Al Ahed FC over two legs on September 24 and October 1.
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