KUALA LUMPUR: Asian confederation president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has expressed a wish that Guangzhou Evergrande’s victory in the AFC Champions League can raise the popularity of the game in China.
Guangzhou won the crown when they drew 1-1 with FC Seoul in the second leg on Saturday to win on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate tie.
Brazilian forward Elkeson opened the scoring for the Chinese champions in the 58th minute. Seoul levelled four minutes later through Dejan Damjanovic but Guangzhou held out to take the title.
Guangzhou’s victory means they will be Asia’s representative at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco next month (The field was completed when Al Ahly of Egypt retained the African Champions League Cup).
Shaikh Salman said: “This remarkable achievement is surely a result of hard work put in by the Chinese Football Association, the Chinese Super League and the club itself. Guangzhou Evergrande’s successful campaign also helped the competition reach to a wider television audience.”
He hoped that Guangzhou Evergrande will reflect the good image of Asian football and will make the continent proud at the FIFA Club World Cup to be held in Morocco next month.
“Guangzhou Evergrande’s excellent consistent performance shows that they are the rightful representatives of Asia for the FIFA Club World Cup title. I would like to wish them the very best and hope that they will return triumphant from Morocco.
“Guangzhou Evergrande has infused a new life into Chinese football and I am confident that this will benefit not only the Chinese Super League but also the national team in a big way.
“Chinese football plays an important role in the growth of Asian football and this triumph will help spreading the game to a larger audience in the world’s most populous country.”