The deserving champions: Saudi Arabia and their triumph in the AFC U 19 Championship

Saudi Arabia have finally gotten over the hump they had after falling short in the 2016 AFC U-19 Championship as they are the 2018 champions.

The Green Falcons had so much on the line during this tournament as they came so close to winning it all two years ago but were beaten by Japan in a penalty shootout.

On a mission, Saudi Arabia had their rematch against the Samurai Blue and ensured their progression in the competition by beating their rivals 2-0. With that in mind, it appeared the Green Falcons were simply destined for nothing short but the title.

However, they had a tough task ahead as they faced-off against the nation with most AFC U-19 titles in South Korea. The Taegeuk Warriors, too, had a chip on their shoulders as they were looking to shed the stigma that they’re on a downward spiral after failing to leave the group stages in the last two editions of the competition.

It perfectly set-up an intense match-up, but the Green Falcons were simply the hungrier of the two sides. This was evident when Turki Al-Ammar, one of the standout performers of the competition, put the Green Falcons ahead only two minutes into the game as it signaled what was to come from Saudi.

Probably shell-shocked from the early goal, South Korea could not understand what hit them and before they knew it, they could not get a sniff of the ball as Saudi set the pace and were in complete control.

It would eventually pay-off after 20 minutes of the opener as Khalid Al-Ghannam produced one of the best shots of the tournament with a right-footed cannon that beat the defender and goal keeper as it doubled Saudi’s lead.

The Green Falcons would continue putting on the pressure and could have been up more before the half as they were precise with their attacks and movements while the South Koreans looked a step slower.

In the second half, though, South Korea appeared to have new life and they eventually won a penalty that Cho Young Wook confidently converted. This gave the South Koreans new life as they pressed on the action to try and find the equaliser.

However, Saudi were able to successfully adjust to what South Korea had begun to throw at them. They still dominated possession and even created chances for themselves. Having one hand on the title two years ago and having it taken away at the last moment appeared to give the Green Falcons a different focus this tournament which was ultimately manifested in the final.

They were ready for anything and appeared confident throughout 90 minutes. They are finally champions after 26 years and have beaten two of the best teams along the way. They are at the top and deserve the accolades they have gotten to this point.

Photo courtesy of AFC

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