THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Shaikh Salman congratulates Al Hilal SFC on securing historic Continental club victory

AFC Champions League

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC for clinching the AFC Champions League 2021 title after the West Asians defeated Korea Republic’s FC Pohang Steelers 2-0 in a thrilling final at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

Winners of the AFC Champions League in 2019, along with two Asian Club Championship triumphs in 1991 and 2000, Tuesday’s victory saw the Saudi Arabian giants, who also finished as runners-up on four occasions, solidify their place as the most decorated side in the tournament’s history with four Continental club crowns.

The AFC President said: “On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to convey my heartfelt congratulations to Al Hilal SFC for creating history with their remarkable victory in the final and for their consistency and tenacity throughout the competition.

“Al Hilal SFC have a proven track record in the AFC Champions League and this latest achievement is a testament to everyone, from generations past and present, working tirelessly behind the scenes to carry on its proud tradition, which I have no doubts will serve as an inspiration to Asia’s players, teams and clubs.”

The AFC President was also resolute in his praise of all the Participating Clubs and Host Member Associations for their commitment in the safe completion of the AFC Champions League 2021, which culminated in the presence of 50,171 passionate fans at the King Fahd International Stadium after the AFC had earlier approved full spectator attendance, in line with strict health and safety protocols.

Shaikh Salman added: “The AFC, together with its Member Associations and clubs, has been steadfast in our commitment to show the world that Asian football was ready to return in 2021 and the incredible scenes at the Final exemplified once again the much-admired unity and solidarity of the Asian football family.

“None of this would have been possible without the impeccable sense of partnership between the AFC and all our participating clubs as well as the warm hospitality and safe environment provided by our numerous Host Member Associations.

“We must also pay tribute to Asia’s passionate fans who continue to engage in record numbers year after year, and of course, to our medical professionals as well as our match officials, our media, commercial and broadcast partners and all our stakeholders for their outstanding teamwork and belief in the AFC’s ambitions to stage world-class competitions for our Member Associations.”

Al Hilal SFC’s Salem Al Dawsari was named the AFC Champions League 2021 MVP after a sterling campaign which saw his club also earning the Fair Play Award while Al Duhail’s Michael Olunga was crowned the top scorer, finishing with a tournament-best of nine goals.