Bahrain’s Al Muharraq downs Nasaf to lift second AFC Cup title

Bahrain’s Al Muharraq lifted the AFC Cup in front of its own fans on Friday, handing Nasaf of Uzbekistan a 3-0 defeat to claim Asia’s second-tier regional trophy for the second time.

Goals from Mahmoud Al Mardi, Husain Jameel and Flavio Carioca earned the side coached by Isa Sadoon Al Hamdani victory, adding the title to the club’s previous success in 2008.

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The AFC Cup is the Asian Football Confederation’s secondary club competition and features teams who do not automatically qualify for the Asian Champions League.

Perfect start

Al Mardi gave the Bahrainis the perfect start with less than two minutes on the clock when his cross-cum-shot from outside the penalty area found the top corner of the Nasaf goal. Sixteen minutes from time Al Muharraq doubled their lead when Noor Al Rawabdeh’s angled ball split the Nasaf defence to leave Jameel with time to slot past keeper Umidjon Ergashev.

Carioca put the result beyond doubt six minutes later when he finished off a counter-attack down the right flank, lifting the ball over the advancing Ergashev to claim the home side’s third.

Al Muharraq’s win comes after last year’s competition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and earns the club a place in the qualifying rounds of next year’s Asian Champions League.

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