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NewsThe Asian Football Confederation highlights the continent's most prominent stars in the Champions League final

The Asian Football Confederation highlights the continent’s most prominent stars in the Champions League final

The Asian Football Confederation highlighted the most prominent stars that shone in the final matches of the AFC Champions League, coinciding with the final of the current version, which brings together the defending champions, Al Hilal Saudi Arabia, and Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan, next Saturday, in the first leg in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, before they meet again on May 6. Next in the Japanese capital, Tokyo. The Confederation’s website stated in its report that four players from Al-Hilal Club are looking forward to making their fifth appearance in the final match, to set a record in the history of the tournament, which reflects the great success of the Saudi team in recent years. Saud Kariri, the Saudi Al-Ittihad player, is the most prominent of these names, after he did not attend the final in 2004, 2005 and 2009 with Al-Ittihad, and then in 2014 with Al-Hilal. Kariri appeared with captain Mohamed Nour in the Al-Ittihad squad that brought the club the first title in the AFC Champions League in 2004. The following year, Kariri succeeded in scoring by leading his team to defeat Busan Ipark, South Korea, 5-0 in the first leg of the semi-finals, and succeeded in the end of the tournament. In obtaining the second continental title. Kariri was hoping in 2009 to win the third continental title, but Al-Ittihad lost in the final to the Korean Pohang Steelers. After that, the Saudi star returned and contributed to Al Hilal qualifying for the 2014 AFC Champions League final, before losing to the Australian Western Sydney Wanderers. South Korean goalkeeper Kwon Soon-tae also recorded his name among the most participating in the final, after he participated with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in 2006 and 2016, and Kashima Antlers in 2018. Kwon Soon-tae is considered the most successful player in crowning the AFC Champions League title, as he was crowned with the title. Three times, including twice with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and once with Japan’s Kashima Antlers. The first title was in 2006 with Jeonbuk Motors, and he returned to repeat the matter in 2016 with the same club, before moving to Kashima Antlers to win the third title in 2018. Kwon was 22 years old when he won the first title in 2006, as he contributed to overcoming dignity. Al-Syrian by 3-2 in the two-legged aggregate, after keeping a clean sheet in the first-leg match, which the team won 2-0. Ten years later, Kwon shone again in the second leg of the final as Jeonbuk Motors beat Jeonbuk Motors 3-2 on aggregate. The Korean player moved to Japan in 2017, and became the most successful player in the history of the AFC Champions League, after winning the third title when Kashima Antlers defeated Iranian Persepolis 2-0 on aggregate in the 2018 final. The Japanese Yuki Abe, player of the Urawa Red Diamonds team, also appears, as he did not appear in the final in 2007, 2017 and 2019. Yuki Abe helped Urawa Red Diamonds win the continental title on their debut in 2007, drawing the first leg with Iran’s Sepahan 1-1 in Isfahan, then winning the second leg 2-0 in Saitama. Yuki contributed to winning the second continental title in 2017, when his team beat Al Hilal Saudi Arabia 2-1 in the two-legged aggregate. Two years later, Abe scored the third appearance in the final of the continental championship, against Al-Hilal again, where he participated as a substitute when his team failed to obtain the third title. In addition, Saudi goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf participated in the rest in making history after appearing in the final with Al-Ahly in 2012, and Al-Hilal in 2017, 2019 and 2021. Al-Mayouf contributed to Al-Ahly reaching the 2012 AFC Champions League final, before losing to South Korean Ulsan Hyundai. By moving to Al-Hilal Club, Al-Mayouf helped his team reach the AFC Champions League final three times over five years. Al-Mayouf’s first appearance with Al-Hilal in the AFC Champions League final ended with a loss against Urawa Reds in 2017, but he managed to win the championship title in the next two matches, in 2019 against Urawa Reds and 2021 against Pohang Steelers. The report also talked about the Saudi trio, Salman Al-Faraj, Yasser Al-Shahrani and Salem Al-Dosari, appearing in the final with Al-Hilal on four occasions in 2014, 2017, 2019 and 2021, as they are now looking forward to appearing fifth in this year’s edition. This trio participated as starters in the home and away matches in 2014, 2017 and 2019, while Al-Shahrani appeared as a substitute in the 2021 final, after he had just recovered from injury. Al-Dossary was the only one to score in the final within this trio, through his goal in the second leg of the final of the 2019 edition. In addition to the seven players who participated in different versions of the AFC Champions League final with its new system, there are other players who recorded repeated attendance in the final of the tournament with its previous systems. As the Asian Club Championship, the Champions League alongside the AFC Champions League, they are Lee Dong-Gook, who appeared in the final with Pohang Steelers in 1998, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in 2011 and 2016, and Saudi Khamis Al-Owairan (with Al-Hilal in 1991 and 2000, and Al-Ittihad in 2004 and 2005), and his compatriot Muhammad Al-Shalhoub (with Al-Hilal in 2000, 2014, 2017 and 2019), and Thai Raut Srimaka (with Thai Farmers Bank in 1994 and 1995, and Tiro Sasana in 2003).

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Arab Desk
Arab Desk
The Eastern Herald’s Arab Desk validates the stories published under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on easternherald.com.

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