Kuala Lumpur: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa paid tribute to Al Ain’s courageous effort in finishing runners-up to Spanish giants Real Madrid at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2019 on Saturday.  

Al Ain, only the second Asian club to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup final, produced a courageous performance before losing to 13-time European Champions, Real Madrid 4-1 at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, one of the eight venues for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 which kicks off on January 5, 2019.

Shaikh Salman said: “Al Ain showed tremendous determination to reach the final and I applaud their spirit and the team’s resilience and dedication in the FIFA Club World Cup.

"They can take pride in defeat and the Continent will look at their performances as a source of inspiration.

“It is the AFC’s Vision and Mission to ensure Asian teams can compete on the world stage and in two editions, we have watched two Asian clubs – Al Ain and Kashima Antlers in 2016 – come close to victory.”

Earlier, Kashima Antlers lost to River Plate in the playoff for the bronze medal, with the 2018 AFC Champions League winners falling 4-0 to the Argentinian side.

Photo: FIFA via Getty ImagesSource: the-afc.com