Al Ahli players to receive Dh500k for runners-up finish in Asian Champions League

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Dubai Crown Prince, has awarded Al Ahli’s players Dh500,000 each for finishing runners-up in this year’s Asian Champions League.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, meets with the Al Ahli squad following their loss in the Asian Champions League final. Courtesy Al Ahli Sports Club
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DUBAI // Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Dubai Crown Prince, has awarded Al Ahli’s players Dh500,000 each for finishing runners-up in this year’s Asian Champions League.

The Dubai club were defeated 1-0 on aggregate by China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in the final, after losing Saturday’s second leg of the final at the Tianhe Stadium. Ahli had held Guangzhou, the 2013 Asian champions, to a goalless draw at the Rashid Stadium earlier this month.

However, Brazilian Elkeson scored in the 52nd minute of the return match to seal the title, with Ahli also having Salmeen Khamis sent off just after the hour mark.

Ahli’s run to the showpiece event of Asian club football was impressive, given that until this year they had never qualified from the group stages of the competition in five previous attempts.

In making the final, though, Ahli became the first UAE club to reach that point in a decade. Al Ain, Asian champions in 2003, finished runners-up in 2005 and did progress to the semi-finals last year, which represented a significant improvement on the UAE’s recent record in Asia’s premier club competition.

According the state news agency Wam, Ahli received the bonus to mark their significant achievement for Emirati football. The Crown Prince, who is Ahli’s club president, wished all members of the team the best in their future endeavours, while also wishing all UAE football clubs the best for their upcoming international, regional and local tournaments, the news agency said.

The UAE will be represented in next year’s Champions League by reigning Arabian Gulf League champions Al Ain and President’s Cup winners Al Nasr.

Al Jazira and Al Shabab, who finished second and third respectively in last season’s domestic league, have also qualified for the 2016 Champions League, but must negotiate play-off matches to advance to the group stages.​

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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