West Asia Southeast Asia

West Asia Retain AFC Cup Hegemony as KL Falters in Final

The AFC Cup trophy is staying in West Asia after Oman’s Al-Seeb won this year’s final on Saturday night, ending Kuala Lumpur City FC’s fairy tale story with a 3-0 triumph to end their own incredible run in the competition on a high. Despite playing away at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Malaysia, Al-Seeb were a class above the City Boys and produced a dominant performance which earned them cup glory.

This year’s AFC Cup final was relocated from the KLFA Stadium in Cheras to the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Bukit Jalil due to the latter being able to better accommodate the AFC’s VAR equipment. Despite the decision being met with some backlash from Kuala Lumpur fans, optimism remain quite high as the City Boys had beaten Johor Darul Ta’zim 1-0 in last season’s Malaysia Cup final at the same venue, a feat that earned them a place in this year’s AFC Cup.

However, Al-Seeb were a different type of beast compared to JDT and soon enough the Omanis showed why West Asian teams have consistently dominated the AFC Cup since the tournament’s inception. Undeterred by the many Kuala Lumpur fans flocking the stadium in support of their team, Al-Seeb had the lion’s share of possession and were more clinical with their shots on target, going 1-0 up in the 22nd minute thanks to Ali Al-Busaidi.

Al-Seeb, who dominated the Omani domestic scene this season with wins in the league, cup, and super cup, doubled their lead in the 37th minute after Abdul Aziz Al-Maqbali managed to head home a cross beyond the reaches of Kuala Lumpur custodian Kevin Ray Mendoza.

Spearheaded by top-scorer hopeful Paulo Josue, Kuala Lumpur did their best in keeping up with their opposition, but in the end Al-Seeb proved themselves to be above the City Boys in terms of quality after the Omanis killed the game off in the 69th minute thanks to an effort from Yousuf Al-Malki.

By beating Kuala Lumpur, Al-Seeb made history as being the first club from Oman to win the AFC Cup, completing an unprecedented quadruple for the men in yellow-and-green. Al-Seeb’s triumph also ensured that West Asia would remain dominant in the competition, with teams from the region having won every single edition of the AFC Cup since 2015 – a run that lasts seven years and counting.

As for Kuala Lumpur, they must redirect their focus to defend their Malaysia Cup title, with the City Boys set to take on PDRM FC on October 27th to kick-start their cup title defense. But despite defeat, considering how Kuala Lumpur went from a free-falling side who were languishing in the Malaysian lower divisions to a continental competition runners-up who defied all the odds despite boasting a small budget in a space of ten years, getting to the final itself was a massive achievement for the City Boys, and Bojan Hodak’s men should be proud of themselves for doing so.