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Saitama: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Urawa Red Diamonds on lifting the 2017 AFC Champions League trophy following their 2-1 aggregate victory over Al Hilal.

Shaikh Salman said: “I would like to offer my warm congratulations to Urawa Red Diamonds for winning their second AFC Champions League title. I also wish to commend the runners-up Al Hilal, who also produced excellent performances throughout the competition and fully deserved their place in the final.”

The AFC President also took the opportunity to offer Urawa Red Diamonds his best wishes ahead of their appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates next month.

Shaikh Salman said: “Based on their excellent performance in the AFC Champions League, I am confident that they will represent Asian football with distinction in the FIFA Club World Cup. They will look to emulate the performance of Japan’s Kashima Antlers, who reached the final last year. The AFC is also proud that the FIFA Club World Cup is again being held in Asia – this time in the UAE.”

The AFC President paid special tribute to Yosuke Kashiwagi, who was officially crowned the AFC Champions League 2017 Most Valuable Player, and Al Hilal forward Omar Khribin, who finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 10 goals.

“The performances of these players highlight the quality that exists in the AFC Champions League as it continues to reach new heights both on and off the pitch.”

The AFC President also congratulated all participating clubs in this season’s AFC Champions League, with 47 teams from 19 Member Associations taking part, and three clubs qualifying for the group stage for the first time.

“The Asian Football Confederation remains dedicated to producing world class competitions. The AFC Champions League is the pinnacle of club football in Asia, and the 2017 edition of the competition was a tournament of which the entire Continent can be proud.”

“This success is only possible with the commitment and unity of our Member Associations and partners.

“I would like to recognise our Member Associations, clubs, broadcast partners and sponsors for their valuable contributions, which have helped the AFC Champions League become one of the world’s biggest continental club football competitions,” he concluded.

After a goalless first half, Rafael Silva’s strike with just two minutes left ensured Urawa Red Diamonds were crowned AFC Champions League winners for the second time on Saturday after a 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal saw the Japanese side wrap up a 2-1 aggregate scoreline.

Photo: Lagardère Sports