Kharbin looking for final consolation

  • Al Hilal to face Urawa Red Diamonds in the 2017 AFC Champions League final

  • Syrian forward Omar Kharbin has scored nine goals so far in the competition

  • The victors will book a place at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017

Omar Kharbin has identified the perfect remedy after missing out on a spot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. The Syria forward hopes to begin the healing by winning the AFC Champions League, and just one last obstacle remains. He and his club side Al Hilal can almost glimpse the trophy – but they must see off Japanese club Urawa Red Diamonds to get their hands on the prize.

It is less than a month since Kharbin was glued to a television set watching Syria take on Australia in the AFC Fourth Round play-off for Russia 2018. Suspended after picking up a booking in the first leg, he was helpless to prevent his team fall by the wayside. The disappointment was acute, but he is now just two games away from clinching the AFC Champions League and securing a place at the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup.

“My career has taught me that you always have to keep moving forward,” he told after Syria crashed out of World Cup qualifying. “You have to keep on working and make the most of every defeat to continue improving.”

The 23-year-old forward certainly looks to have put that philosophy into practice. Picking himself right back up, he scored two goals for Al Hilal in their semi-final decider against Iranian outfit Persepolis, helping the Saudi Arabian giants book their showpiece final berth. He is now intent on seeing off 2007 winners Urawa Reds to complete a morale-boosting triumph.

“Winning this title with Al Hilal would be the greatest victory of my career,” he explained. “Every player dreams of playing in this final and I hope to be up to the task.”

Attacking strength

Kharbin has undoubtedly risen to the challenge so far, forming a prolific partnership with Carlos Eduardo that has accounted for 16 of Al Hilal’s 25 goals in the competition. The forward pair will look to add to their tally in Saturday’s opening leg, before heading to Saitama for the decider on 25 November.

"Scoring goals means nothing if we don’t win the title,” said Kharbin, who expects a stiff test from Al Hilal’s Japanese opponents. “We have faith in our ability to get a good result in the home leg. Urawa are a team who are well organised in every department and don’t just have good players. They proved that yet again against Shanghai in the semi-finals."

Al Hilal have assets of their own, of course, and they go into the final as the only side yet to lose in the tournament this season. “We have lots of things in common with Urawa but, on an individual basis, we’re better than them,” said Kharbin. “We’re all focused on winning this title. This is going to be our year!”

Whether he scores or not on Saturday, all that matters now for Kharbin is the final result. And with a potential Champions League triumph resulting in a Club World Cup berth, the pain of Syria’s World Cup exit might just begin to fade for Kharbin.