Al Ain beat Yokohama F. Marinos to win final AFC Champions League before format revamp

May 28 – Trailing 2-1 after the first leg in Yokohama two weeks ago, the UAE’s Al Ain turned the tables on the Yokohama F. Marinos in Abu Dhabi to win the AFC Champions League title for the second time.

Al Ain have now qualified for the 32-team Club World Cup in the USA next year, joining other AFC qualifiers Al Hilal from Saudi Arabia and Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds who were the winners of the AFC Champions League in 2021 and 2022. Ulsan HD FC from Korea Republic have also qualified via the ranking pathway.

Two goals each from Soufiane Rahimi and Kodjo Laba drove Al Ain to the title at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

Rahimi scored on eight minutes before Al Ain took the lead overall with a penalty on 33 minutes from Paraguayan Alejandro Romero (Kaku).

Yokohama levelled the aggregate at 3-3 with a goal on 40 minutes from Yan Matheus, but the Japanese met with disaster in added time in the first half with goalkeeper Walter Popp receiving a red card.

Rahimi scored his second on 67 minutes to give Al Alin the advantage before Laba, on as a sub, scored twice in added time to put the result beyong doubt.

Al Ain, the inaugural winners of the AFC Champions League in 2002-03, also become also the last team to win it under the current format before the launch of the AFC Champions League Elite next year.

AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, said: “The AFC Champions League 2023/24 reinforced its position as one of the best club competitions in world football… The success we enjoy today is a tribute to all our valued stakeholders, from our participating teams to our commercial and media partners and our passionate fans, whose unwavering support over the past 21 years has led us to this breakthrough moment.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone for writing this incredible success story, and now we look forward to the same commitment to excellence as we write a new chapter filled with excitement for a better and brighter future of the Asian club game.”

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1721325298labto1721325298ofdlr1721325298owedi1721325298sni@n1721325298osloh1721325298cin.l1721325298uap1721325298

Latest Tweets