Air Force Club (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya) became the first Iraqi side to win the AFC Cup trophy, outplaying India's Bengaluru FC to win the final 1-0 in Doha on Saturday. Hammad Ahmadi, the tournament's top scorer with 16 goals, scored the only goal of the game in the 70th minute.
Bengaluru decided to sit back and invite attacks and the ploy played into the hands of the Iraqi side, who had to ring in a change early on because Humam Tareq suffered an injury. It hardly affected the Iraqis, whose powerful physical presence had kept the fleet-footed Eugeneson Lyngdoh and CK Vineeth quiet. On the counter-attack, Air Force club was lethal.
The best chance for Bengaluru in the first-half came through Lyngdoh, who made a clever late run to meet Alwyn George's right-wing cross but the ball went well over the bar. Air Force Club were cutting the Bengaluru attack open with ease and Amjad Rahdi put Sameh Saeed through with an excellent pass but the former's shot was hit straight at Lalthuammawia Ralte, who made a timely save.
More shots kept coming in on the other side of the break and it was clear that it was only a matter of time before the Air Force club broke the deadlock. Meanwhile, Bengaluru created a rare chance of their own through Sunil Chhetri, who found Lyngdoh in space at the edge of the box but the latter's shot was blocked.
The Air Force club finally got on the scoresheet when Amjad Rahdi easily skipped past two defenders to get inside the box and was one-on-one with Ralte, and the ball was unselfishly rolled into the path of Hammadi Ahmed, who tapped the ball home.
The goal opened the game up for the Air Force Club and Amjad Rahdi and Hammadi Ahmed were combining superbly to leave the Bengaluru defence in sixes and sevens. With 15 minutes left on the clock, Amjad Rahdi curled one goalwards but the ball missed the post by just a few inches. There was no way back for Bengaluru, who came out second best on the day.
Air Force Club 1 (Hammadi Ahmed) beat Bengaluru FC 0