Lebanon’s Al Ahed FC defeat 10-man 4.25 SC 1-0 to lift their maiden AFC Cup title

AFC Cup 2019: 4.25 SC 0-1 Al-Ahed (Issah Yakubu 74′)

Lebanon’s Al Ahed FC have defeated DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC 1-0 to emerge as the champions of AFC Cup 2019 at the KLFA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Monday.

Ghanaian midfielder Issa Yakobo scored the winning header in the 74th minute as Al Ahed lifted their maiden AFC Cup title by overcoming the North Koreans who played more than an hour of the final with 10 men after goalkeeper An Tae-song was sent off.

It was April 25 who began the final on the front foot at Kuala Lumpur, but the first chance fell for the Lebanese Premier League champions when Ahmad Zreik dragged a shot across the goal as early as the fifth minute.

Al Ahed forward Ahmed Akaichi couldn’t believe how he had failed to score in the 16th minute when 4.25 custodian An fumbled a long-distance effort only for it to fall to the Tunisian forward. Akaichi did manage to turn the ball towards goal from point blank range, but An redeemed himself with a brilliant save.

However, the dynamics of the cup final changed in the 26th minute when shot-stopper An was sent off for a cynical foul on Zreik who had escaped the North Korean defence and was clean through on goal.

4.25 head coach O Yun-son was forced to sacrifice attacker Chol Su-choe to bring in substitute goalkeeper Sin Tae-song and they were once again forced onto the defensive when they lost their captain and striker Rim Chol-min to an injury before half time.

Akaichi once again was at the end of a gilt-edged chance in the 40th minute when Zreik teed him up with a cross in front of the goal, but the Tunisian ballooned his effort from close range with the goal at his mercy. As a result, the two teams went into the half-time break with nothing to separate them.

Al Ahed continued to probe for a goal after the restart, but openings were far and few between against a resolute April 25 backline. Yakobo was the first to test replacement goalkeeper Sin in the 73rd minute that was deflected wide for a corner by the North Korean goalie.

And the Lebanese club finally broke the deadlock from the resulting corner kick that was played short to Hussein Dakik and crossed into the centre for Yakobo to head in the goal that would eventually win a first-ever AFC Cup title for the Beirut-based club.

Zreik hit the woodwork in the 90th minute for Al Ahed and Hussain Monther missed an open goal from the ricochet, but the sole goal was enough for the Yellow Castle to take home their maiden continental title.

(Photo credit: Al Ahed FC)