Saitama: Omar Khribin has won the 2017 AFC Champions League top scorer award after the Syrian’s 10 goals saw him finish one ahead of Urawa Red Diamonds’ Rafael Silva and Shanghai SIPG’s Hulk.
Khribin scored in the first leg of the final against Urawa in Riyadh last Saturday as Al Hilal drew 1-1 with the Japanese side, although injury forced the striker off after an hour of the return fixture and the Saudi giants ultimately lost 2-1 on aggregate.
But the disappointment of defeat in the final takes nothing away from Khribin’s performances throughout the competition as the forward helped fire his side to a second final in four years and in doing so, became one of the most talked about players on the continent.
Khribin scored his first goal of the 2017 AFC Champions League in Al Hilal’s 2-2 Matchday Three draw with the United Arab Emirates’ Al Wahda, before he added a brace, including a late winner, in a 4-3 victory over Qatar’s Al Rayyan as the Riyadh side topped the group.
It was in the knockout rounds, though, that Khribin really started to grab the headlines as he again scored a match-winning strike in the 2-1 win over Esteghlal Khouzestan in the second leg of the Round of 16 as Al Hilal won 4-3 on aggregate.
Ramon Diaz’s team then saw off 2016 runners-up Al Ain in the last eight, before Khribin stole the limelight in the semi-final against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Persepolis.
Having drawn twice with the Iranians in the group stage, Khribin netted a superb hat-trick in the first leg as Al Hilal ran out comprehensive 4-0 winners to put one foot in the final.
Then in the second leg with the Saudi team goal down, Khribin equalised from the spot before adding another as the game ended 2-2 and the Syrian took his tally against Persepolis to five.
Khribin was again on the scoresheet when he finished from close range to deservedly level the scores with Urawa in Riyadh and he would have added more goals to his account had it not been for a superlative display from goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa.
Despite the loss, Khribin can look back on a fine debut campaign in the competition and ahead to the AFC Player of the Year Awards on Wednesday when he is one of the three nominees to pick up the most prestigious individual accolade on the continent.