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AFC Champions League

Al Ain's Soufiane Rahimi bags AFC Champions League's MVP, Top Scorer awards

Published at :May 26, 2024 at 2:34 PM
Modified at :May 26, 2024 at 2:34 PM
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(Courtesy : AFC Media)

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Soufiane Rahimi scored a brace in the AFC Champions League final’s second leg.

Soufiane Rahimi won the AFC Champions League 2023/24 Most Valuable Player and Top Scorer awards, his 13 goals playing a pivotal role in Al Ain FC winning the title on Saturday.

The Moroccan scored twice in the 5-1 win against Yokohama F. Marinos in Saturday’s second leg, as the side from the United Arab Emirates emerged winners for the second time after having lifted the title in the inaugural edition in 2003.

Rahimi said he was proud to have played a role in Al Ain winning the AFC Champions League title for a second time.

“I remember when I signed with Al Ain and the first message was the priority of the club was to win the title.

“We competed with determination, even when results elsewhere were going against us. We remained focused and I congratulate my teammates, officials and all those who supported us,” said Rahimi.

In scoring 13 goals, Rahimi matched the record for most strikes in a single AFC Champions League season, shared by Guangzhou FC’s Muriqui (2013), FC Seoul’s Adriano (2016) and Al Sadd’s Baghdad Bounedjah (2018).

The Moroccan opened his account in the 4-2 group stage win over Ahal FC of Turkmenistan, before netting once each in the fixtures against Saudi Arabia’s Al Fayha, followed by a strike against Ahal FC in their concluding match.

Rahimi was at his devastating best in the Round of 16 return leg against Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf, scoring the winner in the second minute of added time with the score tied at 1-1.

He was the star man again in the quarter-finals, netting three of Al Ain’s four goals in a 4-4 aggregate draw with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr, with the side from the United Arab Emirates winning the penalty shootout.

Rahimi was even more devastating in the semi-final against Al Hilal SFC of Saudi Arabia, his first-half hat-trick powering Al Ain to a 4-2 win in the opening leg as a place in the final was sealed with a 5-4 victory on aggregate.

Having been relatively quiet in the first leg, he was Al Ain’s star performer on Saturday, with Yokohama struggling to cope with his pace and trickery.

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