Qatar: Bengaluru FC’s dream-run in the AFC Cup ended with a heart-breaking 1-0 loss to Iraq’s Air Force Club in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday.
Hammadi Ahmed scored the only goal of the match in the 70th minute to prevent Bengaluru FC from becoming the first Indian football club to win a continental competition.
Earlier, Bengaluru FC were locked in a 0-0 stalemate at half time with Air Force Club of Iraq in the summit clash.
In a high-stake match between two sides making their maiden AFC Cup final, Air Force Club dominated the first 45 minutes with Bengaluru defending their citadel resolutely.
Bengaluru FC head coach Albert Roca made just one change to his team which started against Johor Darul Ta’zim in the semifinals with Lalthuamawia Ralte replacing suspended Amrinder Singh at the goal.
The first half was dominated by the Air Force Club with the Iraqi side having more of the ball possession and Bengaluru playing in their own half. The Iraqi side though did not have any clear chance with the Bengaluru back four of John Johnson, Juanan, Rino Anto and Nishu Kumar doing an impressive job to thwart any Air Force attack.
Bengaluru, on the other hand, looked to attack on the break either from the right through Alwyn George or from the left through captain Sunil Chhetri with Eugeneson Lyngdoh playing at the hole behind C K Vineeth.
Air Force had a half chance in the 22nd minute but Humam Tareq’s long ranger, after he saw Bengaluru keeper Ralte well out of his line, went wide. The Iraqi side had the best chance of the first half in the 42nd minute but Ralte came to the rescue for his side with a fine save. Hammadi Ahmad sent a lovely through ball to Amjad Radhi who beat the offside trap but his attempted square pass towards Emad Majeed in the box was thwarted by Ralte who palmed it out for a corner.
Bengaluru had just one clear look at the Air Force goal in the first session in the 30th minute. Alwyn George sent a lovely teasing cross from the right and Lyngdoh had a clean header but it went wide.