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AFC Champions League 2021 set for historic showdown in Riyadh

AFC Champions League

Asian football history will be made at the AFC Champions League 2021 Final between Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC and Korea Republic’s FC Pohang Steelers with both teams aiming to lift the Continent’s most sought after club accolade for an unprecedented fourth time.

After a thrilling campaign in the AFC Champions League, both teams will go head-to-head in the winner-takes-all single-leg battle at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh on Tuesday, November 23, at 7pm (local time; GMT+3) in front of what is expected to be a capacity crowd after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) approved full spectator attendance strictly in line with health and safety protocols.

Al Hilal SFC won the showpiece in 1991 and 2000, before sensationally claiming their third title just two years ago and the Saudi Arabian giants will seek to rewrite Asian football history on home soil.

The West Asian side qualified from Group A as one of the best runners-up but it was in the knockout stages that Al Hilal SFC were truly impressive when they dispatched of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Esteghlal FC in the Round of 16 and two-time finalists Persepolis FC in the Quarter-finals.

Leonardo Jardim’s men were in peak form again during the Semi-finals against Al Nassr in the ‘Riyadh Derby’ after edging their fierce rivals 2-1 with man of the match Salem Al Dawsari scoring the winner to lead his side to their third final in five years.

Standing in their way are three-time Continental club champions FC Pohang Steelers who have also produced standout performances in the knockout rounds after qualifying as one of the best placed runners-up.

Kim Gi-dong’s side edged Japan’s Cerezo Osaka 1-0 in the Round of 16 before claiming a dominant 3-0 victory over Nagoya Grampus in the Quarter-finals to set up an exciting encounter against AFC Champions League title holders Ulsan Hyundai.

The East Coast Derby between the two clubs did not disappoint with FC Pohang Steelers recovering from a goal down to eventually defeat their opponents on penalties to book a spot in the final for the first time since 2009.

The enticing final looks set to be a memorable clash between the West and East clubs who will be determined to cement their place in Asian football history and claim one of the richest Continental club prizes in world football.