Urawa Red Diamonds Seal Historic Third AFC Champions League Title
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan after they clinched the AFC Champions League 2022 title with an aggregate 2-1 win over Al Hilal SFC of Saudi Arabia at the Saitama Stadium on Saturday.
History was created when Urawa Red Diamonds became the first side to win three AFC Champions League™ titles in the modern era of the competition after victories in 2007 and 2017.
In the latest chapter of Asia’s greatest club rivalry, the Japanese club drew the first leg away in Riyadh 1-1, before securing the title in the second leg with a 1-0 victory in Saitama. The two teams had earlier clashed thrice in the last six editions.
Shaikh Salman said: “On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Urawa Red Diamonds on winning the coveted AFC Champions League title for a record third time. The whole world was treated to the vibrant energy of Asian club football, a true festival of passion, skills and excitement, that will be remembered for years to come.
“Urawa Red Diamonds should be proud of their achievements in the AFC Champions League and their hattrick of titles underlines the captivating and world-class quality of Japanese club football. The team produced a magical performance, full of attacking flair and creativity, and I applaud the players and coaching staff. I also extend my compliments to the Japan Football Association, the club leadership, and the Urawa Red Diamonds fans for making this a night to remember.”
The AFC President also commended Al Hilal, who missed out on adding to their trophy cabinet after wins in 2019 and 2021 as well as two Asian Club Championships in 1991 and 2000.
“Al Hilal SFC have played in the AFC Champions League final for the fifth time in the last nine editions and this speaks volumes about their high calibre and motivation to be ever present at this level of the club game in Asia,” added Shaikh Salman.
The unwavering dedication exhibited a week apart by a sea of fans in Riyadh and Saitama came in for special praise from the AFC President.
“The exuberance and pride showcased by passionate fans from both finalists was palpable as they rallied behind their teams and created an electric atmosphere. Our Asian football fans are capable of incredible passion and loyalty and once again presented proof of the great role they play in shaping the destiny of their sides,” said Shaikh Salman.
The King Fahd International Stadium saw 50,881 fans take their seats to voice their support for Al Hilal SFC in the first leg, while the Saitama Stadium was packed out by 53,574 vociferous and flag-waving fans in the second leg, much to the delight of the AFC President.
Shaikh Salman also took the opportunity to comment on the transformation of the AFC’s club competitions with a laser-sharp focus on the AFC Champions League, which will see an acceleration in its stature as one of the leading club competitions in the world, boasting an ever-increasing core of supporters, high visibility and commercial opportunities as underlined in the AFC’s Vision and Mission.
“This season of the AFC Champions League was captivating, and the excitement it has produced and managed to sustain is a harbinger for the future, especially when the new look AFC club competitions are introduced from the 2024-2025 season. Asian club football fans can look forward to a whole new experience where excitement, passion and technology will converge to create a new future,” added the AFC President.
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