AFC President

AFC President hails Al Hilal for claiming third club crown

Kuala Lumpur: AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC for clinching the 2019 AFC Champions League title following their 3-0 aggregate victory over Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds on Sunday.

Continental club Champions in 1991 and 2000, Al Hilal’s victory sees them join Korea Republic’s Pohang Steelers as the only side to clinch three titles and the first side in the West Zone to claim the coveted crown since Qatar’s Al Sadd in 2011.

The 2019 AFC Champions League season also created history with new engagement records set across all social media platforms, with 305.8 million fans engaged on Twitter and another 260.9 million on Instagram.

More than 78.9 million have been engaged on Facebook with the biggest increase coming from the AFC’s YouTube channel which has seen a staggering 556% increase in new subscribers.

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Shaikh Salman said: “On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to offer our warmest congratulations to Al Hilal for claiming the 2019 AFC Champions League title. We must also offer our compliments to Urawa Red Diamonds for demonstrating great character to reach the final and both teams played with immense determination and provided fans across the globe with another thrilling finale.

“With this victory, Al Hilal have earned their place as one of Asia’s greatest clubs and I am confident that this achievement will inspire other clubs to emulate their success.”

The AFC President also took the opportunity to offer Al Hilal his best wishes as they prepare to represent Asia in the FIFA Club World Cup, which will be held in Qatar next month. Asia has enjoyed a remarkable record at the global extravaganza with UAE’s Al Ain and Kashima Antlers from Japan finishing as runners-up in 2018 and 2016 respectively.

Shaikh Salman said: “The AFC Champions League represents the height of our ambitions and allows Asian teams and players the chance to succeed on the world stage and the proud tradition of our teams at the FIFA Club World Cup exemplifies the quality and ever-growing stature of our competitions. Together with Al Sadd, I would like to wish Al Hilal the very best in Qatar next month.

“The AFC is also proud that the FIFA Club World Cup is again held in Asia – this edition in Qatar for the first time – and I am confident that we will witness another extraordinary tournament. And in 2021 we know that an expanded version of the tournament will be held in the People’s Republic of China.

“This is clearly Asia’s time and we must praise our Member Associations, our clubs, our players, our commercial partners as well as members of the media for their unwavering support to ensure our competitions and events continue to grow and provide a world-class platform for our Continent’s best to shine.”

Photo: AFP

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