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Kuala Lumpur: The AFC Cup 2017 reached its grand final tonight, with Air Force Club from Iraq clinching the title for the second time.

Emad Mohsin scored the only goal of the game in the 68th minute to seal Air Force Club’s 1-0 win over FC Istiklol in the 2017 final on Saturday evening at Hisor Central Stadium in Tajikistan.

Having won the competition in 2016, Air Force Club’s victory means they join an exclusive group of clubs who have retained the title for two consecutive years.

The other two to have repeated an AFC Cup final victory are Al Faisaly from Jordan (2005, 2006) and Al Kuwait (2012, 2013). Al Kuwait also lifted the AFC Cup in 2009.

The AFC President, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, congratulated the West Asian winners: “I am very happy to see the AFC Cup trophy go to Iraq’s Air Force Club.

"This second consecutive victory shows that their title win last year was no coincidence, but Iraqi football is a force to be reckoned with at the Continental level.

“This is a proud and historic moment for Air Force Club and the fans. It is the result of hard work by the club and development efforts by the Iraqi Football Association.”

Shaikh Salman went on to say: “With this season’s new format, we have celebrated new Zonal Champions as well as allowing more teams from more countries to experience top class continental football.

“Congratulations to Ceres Negros from the Philippines who were crowned ASEAN’s Zone Champions, DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC became the East Zone Champions while India’s JSW Bengaluru FC won in the South Zone. And, of course, tonight’s finalists are the champions of their respective zones. I would like to once again congratulate these five clubs for beating tough regional rivals.

“A record 43 clubs from 25 Member Associations participated in the 2017 AFC Cup. I would like to thank them all for contributing to the success of this season, and for widening the reach of Asian club football.”

The AFC President thanked the Football Federation of Tajikistan (FFT) for hosting the final for the second time.

 “Congratulations to the FFT for having been an excellent host for this Continental event. Organising finals always adds to the Member Association’s experience and prepares them for bigger events in the future.” 

Photo: Lagardère Sports