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Lebanon's Al-Ahed FC make history after beating North Korean challengers to lift AFC Cup Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Lebanon's Al-Ahed FC make history after beating North Korean challengers to lift AFC Cup

Date of publication: 5 November, 2019

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Al-Ahed FC beat North Korea's April 25 Sports Club to become the first Lebanese team to lift the AFC Cup.

Al-Ahed FC became the first Lebanese football team to win the AFC Cup on Monday after beating North Korea's April 25 Sports Club (4.25 SC) 1-0 during a highly charged final which was moved twice from its original Pyongyang venue.

The Asian competition, which began in 2004, has been won by Iraq's Air Force Club for the previous three years.

The final venue for the AFC Cup final was moved to Kuala Lumpur on 25 October just days after having been relocated to Shanghai, China due to international sanctions imposed on North Korea.

The North Korean team's goalkeeper An Tae Song was sent off in the 26th minute after tripping Lebanese player Ahmad Zreik.

Al-Ahed secured victory with a 74th minute header by Issah Yakubu, having dominated the match.

The Asian Football Confederation said the final was moved to ensure it could be broadcast in Asia and the Middle East.

A World Cup qualifier game between South and North Korea last month was played in an empty stadium after Pyongyang barred fans from attending and refused to broadcast the game, which ended in a goalless draw.

Al-Ahed, based in Beirut, has a largely Shia fanbase.

Netanyahu referred to the Al-Ahed as "A Hezbollah team" during a 2018 UN speech, alleging that the group had hidden missile facilities in the club's stadium.

The Lebanese FA rejected Netanyahu's claims.

No explicit documents have ever been revealed showing the direct transfer of funds from Hezbollah to the club.

In recent years, officials from the group's education and culture departments have held senior managerial positions at Al-Ahed.

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