FIFA Club World Cup, FIFA World Cup

  • Al Hilal won the 2019 AFC Champions League
  • Gomis was the tournament’s top scorer and best player
  • The striker discusses Asian triumph and long-awaited Club World Cup appearance

he 2019 AFC Champions League came to a conclusion with Al Hilal dominating the scene. After a 20-year drought, the Saudi giants finally won the title, with the team’s French striker, Bafetimbi Gomis, emerging as the tournament’s best player and top scorer with 11 goals.

Speaking exclusively to, the 34-year old Frenchman revealed the secrets to his impressive performances this season: “I worked hard on every level to score all these goals: technically, tactically and physically. The fitness coaches helped me a lot and thanks to my team-mates I ended up the AFC Champions League’s top scorer and best player. I’m fortunate to be playing with a generation of talented Saudi players.”

He added: “Al Hilal are one of the best clubs in Asia and they’ve given me all their love and respect. When you experience an atmosphere like this at any club, you do everything you can to help them and score goals. That’s what I’ve done with every club I’ve played for throughout my career. With Al Hilal, I’m just trying to use my football experience and skills to help the team.”

Player details

Name: Bafetimbi Gomis
Position: Striker
Height: 6’0 (1.84m)
Age: 34

A special goal

Of the 11 goals Gomis scored in the AFC Champions League this season, there is one that stands out: his strike in the second leg of the final. “I was doubly happy in the final because I scored and won the title with Al Hilal. The club have played three finals in recent years and came up short every time. In response, they decided to bring in some new players to win the Champions League, their main goal.”

Explaining the Saudi club’s plans for winning the title, which involved them prioritising the tournament ahead of others, Gomis said: “We focused on the Champions League at the expense of other competitions such as the Saudi league and cup and the Arab Cup final. One reason I came to Al Hilal was to win the Champions League, and we devoted ourselves to lifting an elusive trophy that the club hadn’t won for 20 years. That’s why we were so happy. Any other result would’ve impacted on the club’s recruitment strategy.”

Al Hilal are the first Arab team to claim the Asian crown since Qatar’s Al-Sadd Sports Club in 2011. “I watched Al-Sadd win the title in 2011 and I remember them collecting the trophy,” said the French front man. “I realised how big the tournament is and we spoke at Al Hilal about the importance of winning this precious title.”

Esperance, Flamengo – and then Liverpool

Al Hilal’s reward for their continental triumph is a place at the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019. Looking ahead to the challenge, Gomis said: “It’s a great tournament and Al Hilal belong there. The champions of every continent will be taking part and that’s why we will prepare well, to be the best representative of Saudi football that we can be.”

Al Hilal will take on Esperance Sportive de Tunis in their opening match on Saturday 14 December. “We will focus on one match at a time,” commented Gomis. “First, we should only be thinking of our game against Esperance and we will look at the way they play. They must be a strong team because they’re African champions and they deserve to be in the Club World Cup.”

Like every other team, Al Hilal are dreaming of playing Liverpool in the final. Gomis, who had a stint in the English Premier League, said: “If we play against Liverpool, it will be in the final. First, we have to beat Esperance and if we do that, we have to overcome Flamengo. Only then we will play Liverpool, though there’s no reason why we can’t do it. We’ll do all we can to make the final, but experience tells me that we have to focus on the Esperance match first.”

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