Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Lebanon's Al Ahed beat North Korea's April 25 SC to clinch AFC Cup - in pictures

Match moved to Malaysia after commercial partners express concerns about broadcasting the game in Pyongyang

Lebanese club Al Ahed won the AFC Cup on Monday, beating North Korea's April 25 SC in a match shifted to Malaysia from Pyongyang following a blacked-out World Cup qualifier.

The final of Asia's second-tier club competition was moved to a neutral venue after last month's meeting between North and South Korea took place with no live broadcast and no foreign media in attendance.

Al Ahed dominated the match but it took until Issah Yakubu's header on 74 minutes to break 4.25's resolute rearguard after the North Koreans played the majority of the match with 10 men following goalkeeper An Tae Song's red card midway through the first half.

An was given his marching orders after tripping an Al Ahed player on the edge of the box as he charged towards goal.

The North Korean side held firm in the face of wave after wave of Al Ahed attacks, with Ahmed Akaichi missing a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring when he fired over the crossbar in front of goal just before the interval.

The North Koreans never threatened in attack and their resistance was finally broken by Yakubu's second-half winner.

Al Ahed are the first Lebanese side to win the AFC Cup since its inception in 2004.

The AFC Cup final was initially moved from Pyongyang to Shanghai - only to be moved again days later to Kuala Lumpur.

The Asian Football Confederation, the continent's governing body, said commercial partners were worried about broadcasting the game in Pyongyang when asked for an explanation of shifting the game to a neutral venue.

The World Cup qualifier between the North and South - the first competitive match between the neighbour's men's teams ever hosted by Pyongyang - turned into a debacle last month.

Pyongyang allowed no home or away fans or foreign media to attend, and no live broadcast, with Fifa president Gianni Infantino one of just a handful of spectators.

Infantino said he was "disappointed" after attending the match and "surprised" by the absence of fans and lack of media access.

Updated: November 5, 2019 10:34 AM

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