Qatar stuns japan 3-1 to lift the AFC Asia Cup 2019In a nail-biting and thrilling game, Qatar crushed the 4 times champion Japan by 3-0, at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, United Arab Emirates (UAE), marking their first ever Asia Cup victory.
This was the 17th edition of the AFC Asian Cup. Organised by Asian Football Confederation (AFC), it was held in the United Arab Emirates from January 5 – February 1, 2019. For the first time, 24 teams participated in the Asian Cup. Earlier, from 2004 to 2015, the Asian Cup witnessed participation from 16 countries.
How it happened
Striker Almoez Ali (Qatar) opened the scoring in the 12th minute of the match with a spectacular overhead kick, his record 9th goal in the tournament, taking him ahead of his counterpart Ali Daei’s (former Iranian footballer) tally of the year 1996. The other goals were scored by Abdulaziz Hatem and Akram Afif in the 27th and 83rd minute respectively.
The only player to score a goal for Japan was Takumi Minamino who scored it in the 69th minute of the game. For the records, this is for the first time that Japan had lost the Asia Cup final match.
Speaking on the occasion, Qatar’s Coach – Felix Sanchez said, “Congratulations to all the people in Qatar for their support for all of us and the players for the seven games they had. This result in a game like this is a huge, huge result for us. Today we made history, history for our country so we need to be very proud of our achievement.”
The message from Emir of Qatar!
The Emir of Qatar – Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, congratulated the team with a special message, “”A tribute to our heroes who made this tournament an Arab achievement and… realised the dreams of millions of Qatari football fans across the great Arab world.”
The moment final whistle was blown, marking the end of the game, thousands of Qatari’s draped in maroon and white (the colour of their national flag), took to the streets of Doha, expressing their joy over the triumph. The streets were gridlocked with cars as drivers started blaring horns in celebration.
Playing against the odds
After defeating UAE 4-0 in the Semi-Final, the Qatar team was hurled with shoes and bottles by UAE fans in the stadium. Immediately, the UAE Football Association made a complaint with AFC that Almoez Ali and Bassam Al-Rawi cannot play for Qatar as they were born in Sudan and Iraq respectively. However, the AFC dismissed their plea and allowed both the players to play the final.
Besides, the host UAE along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt had severed all diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, in June 2017, imposing a blockade of land, sea and air route. The team had to travel via Kuwait to participate in the tournament. This means that the team had to make 5 hours air journey as opposed to the direct flight of 30 minutes to UAE.
The UAE has accused its regional foe of supporting terrorism, which Qatar has denied. This has affected the political and economic ties between the 2 nations.
Big Opportunity Ahead
The victory has encouraged the team of competing against the world’s finest team when they host the football’s greatest tournament, FIFA World Cup in 2022, the first Arab country to do so.