Lebanon’s Al Ahed clinch AFC Cup with win over NK side

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Al Ahed’s players and coaching staff celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2019 AFC Cup Final. |AFP

KUALA LUMPUR, November 4: Lebanon’s Al Ahed clinched the AFC Cup Monday with a dominant 1-0 win over 10-man 4.25 SC from North Korea, a game shifted to Malaysia from Pyongyang following a blacked-out World Cup qualifier.
The final of Asia’s second-tier club tournament was moved following last month’s surreal showdown between North and South Korea, which took place with no live broadcast and no foreign media in attendance.
Issah Yakubu scored the winner in the 74th minute, heading in a cross from Hussein Dakik, as the Lebanese finally broke through the North Koreans’ resolute defence.
The game started off looking fairly evenly matched, but the turning point came midway through the first half when North Korea’s goalkeeper An Tae Song was sent off.
He had appeared to trip up an Al Ahed player on the edge of the box as he charged towards the goal.
Al Ahed then became totally dominant, launching attack after attack, but the first half ended 0-0.
The Lebanese side missed some good chances — just before half time, Ahmed Akaichi managed to miss an easy shot on goal, firing the ball over the crossbar from a short distance out.
After losing a player, the North Koreans never looked like a threat — barely getting near their opponents’ goal — but they put up a strong defence and Al Ahed only broke through towards the end.
Al Ahed are the first Lebanese side to win the AFC Cup since it started in 2004.
The AFC Cup was initially moved from Pyongyang to Shanghai — only to be moved again days later to Kuala Lumpur.
The Asian Football Confederation did not mention the North-South Korea showdown when they shifted the match but said commercial partners were worried about broadcasting the game. (AFP)