—- AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has paid tribute to Kashima Antlers on joining the Continent’s illustrious list of AFC Champions League winners after defeating Persepolis FC 2-0 on aggregate at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, on Saturday.Kashima Antlers showed great resolve prevailing in an exciting season, claiming the richest-ever purse prize of USD$4 million and qualifying for the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in December.

Shaikh Salman said: “I salute the remarkable success of Kashima Antlers on winning their first AFC Champions League title. It is rewarding to see them join the list of worthy champions who have triumphed in Asia’s leading club competition.

“Persepolis FC deserves our praise for putting on a superb performance which captured the imagination of football fans from around the world.

“The world remembers fondly the remarkable display by Kashima against the mighty Real Madrid in the final two years ago and I’m confident Kashima will carry their winning momentum to the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup and strive to do Asia proud once again in the UAE.”

The AFC President was delighted with the success of the AFC Champions League 2018 campaign, which marked a decade of professionalism and the AFC’s efforts to transform the competition into one of the best and richest club continental tournaments in the world.

“The progress of the AFC Champions League has been nothing short of remarkable. From humble beginnings, it has now grown into one of the best continental club competitions in the world, one that creates new milestones, re-writes history and demonstrates continued progress year after year.

“All credit must go to our Member Associations, our clubs, our players and our commercial partners for sharing our collective vision and for being determined in our pursuit of excellence.

“And the remarkable journey will continue. Together, I am confident that we will usher in another decade of glory and incredible success.”

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