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Ognenovski leads Seongnam Ilhwa to Asian Champions League triumph

Sasa Ognenovski has captained Korean club Seongnam Ilhwa to victory in the final of the Asians Champions League. The 31-year old defender, who was called up to the Australian national team for the first time this week, helped his side to a 3-1 win in the decider over Iranian outfit Zobahan at Tokyo's National Stadium last night.

Ognenovski put his side in a commanding position when he prodded home from close range in the 29th minute to make it 1-0 before Cho Byung-kuk added a second eight minutes into the second half with a precision header from a set piece.

Zobahan replied in the 67th minute through Mohamadreza Khalatbari who looped a smart header of oncoming defenders but it wasn't enough as Kim Cheol-ho wrapped up proceedings with an 82nd minute strike to give Seongnam their second win in the competition, adding t o the 1995/96 triumph.

Asian Champions League finalSeongnam Ilhwa (KOR): 3 (Sasa Ognenovski 29', Cho Byung-kuk 53', Kim Cheol-ho 82') Zobahan (IRN): 1 (Mohamadreza Khalatbari 67')

Venue:Tokyo National Stadium - Tokyo, Japan Crowd: 27,308 Referee: Yuichi Nishimura Yellow cards:SEO - Dong-Geon Cho 70' ZOB - Jose Marigo Igor 69', Mohammadali Ahmadi 82', Sina Ashori 87', Mohammad Ghazi Najafabadi 90'

Following the match, Ognenovski was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and Seongnam coach Shin Tae-yong was full of superlatives for the star defender.

"When I was appointed head coach of this club I really wanted him to play for us," Shin said of the former Adelaide United centre-half.

"During the first half of last year he had difficulty adjusting to Korean football but this year he has played very well. He is used to living here and he plays a very important role for my team.

"Whatever I ask of Sasa he will do 100%. I think he is the best stopper in the K-League."

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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