Al Ahed: Who Are Our AFC Cup Final Opponents

The Central Coast Mariners will battle for the AFC Cup early on Monday morning, taking on Lebanese club Al Ahed in Oman in the AFC Cup Final.

After 12 matches and nine total wins, including battling four separate opponents in the knockout stages, all that stands in our way of Continental Gold is Al Ahed.

So who are our opponents, what is their history and how have they made it this far in the competition?

Who are Al Ahed?

Founded in 1964, Al Ahed started their life in the third division of Lebanese football. Just two years later, the team were promoted to the Premier League (First Division) for the first time.

One of the most successful clubs in the history of Lebanese football, the ‘Yellow Castle’ as they are known, have won 32 different trophies in their 50 year existence.

This includes nine league titles, six FA Cups and one AFC Cup, while also being the first Lebanese team to win both their domestic Treble and Quadruple.

Arguably their most prestigious achievement in their 50 year history was their AFC Cup victory in 2019, when they defeated North Korean side April 25 1-0.

Based in Ouzai, a district in Beirut, Al Ahed features numerous members of the Lebanese National Team in their squad, while also consisting of an additional four overseas players. Three of them come from Syria, whilst the other is Scottish Forward Lee Erwin.

The striker has spent time playing in multiple competitions around the globe including in his native country as well as England, most notably making 11 appearances for Leeds United before moving to Kilmarnock FC.

Al Ahed have lost just once in their previous two completed seasons of the Lebanese Premier League, winning both editions. They currently sit second after 11 matches, being equal on points with current league leaders Nejmeh.

Their journey to the AFC Cup Final

Al Ahed have player eight matches so far in the AFC Cup, being drawn in Group A alongside Al-Nahda, Foutoua and Jabal Al-Mukaber. After Jabel Al-Mukaber had to withdraw from the competition, Al-Ahed finished the group stages in second place.

The Lebanese team ended on six points, enough to get them through to the knockout stages as the best ranked runners up in the West Asian Zone.

Matched up against Iraqi outfit Al-Kahrabaa in the Semi Final, they were able to overcome a first leg one goal deficit in the second, with an 85th minute strike from Lee Erwin away from home enough to take the match to penalties.

From there, Al Ahed were able to come out 4-2 winners, setting up a two legged West Asian final against the team they came second to in the group stages, Al-Nahda.

A 1-0 win in the first leg was soon scratched out thanks to an Al-Nahda goal, before a Lee Erwin double after the 80th minute saw them draw that match 2-all and progress 3-2 on aggregate.