Qatar shock Japan to win 2019 AFC Asian Cup


Qatar have beaten one of the tournament favourites Japan 3-1 in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Final at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. A result many would not have predicted and celebrations will be in order tonight as the nation celebrates lifting its first every trophy in football. 

Qatar have been somewhat of a surprise team in the 2019 Asia Cup, the 17th edition of the tournament.  For the first time, 24 teams have competed in the tournament, eight more than previous tournaments between 2004- 2015. 

The favourites going into the tournament were four time winners Japan, and South Korea, who were joined by Tottenham Hotspur star Heung-min Son three games into the tournament. 

Qatar’s best finish before the 2019 finals was back in 2011, where they were knocked out in the Quarter-finals. 

The Maroons have had a sensational tournament, winning all seven of their games, scoring 19 and conceding only one goal, which came in the final game against Japan. They looked comfortable in the group stages, beating Lebanon 2-0, thumping North Korea 6-0 and Saudi Arabia 2-0. Qatar beat Iraq 1-0 in the round of 16 and then faced their toughest test, South Korea. This is where many expected they’d end their journey and most Qataris would have seen this as a successful tournament ahead of the 2022 World Cup which Qatar will host. The team did not quite agree that this was the end and battled hard against the South Koreans, Qatar pushed onto the Semi fnals after a 78th minute goal from midfielder Abdulaziz Hatem secured a 1-0 win for the underdogs. 

The Semi-final was surprisingly more straightforward for the Maroons as they beat host nation the United Arab Emirates 4-0. Unfortunately ongoing political issues in the Middle East meant that games against Saudi Arabia and the UAE were always going to be hostile and the tension could be felt on and off the pitch. UAE defender Ismail Ahmed was sent off for violent conduct and the home crowd hurled shoes at the Qatar players after each goal they scored. 

Qatar faced an experienced Japan side in the final who also comfortably won their Semi-final beating Iran 3-0. Qatar once again went into the game as underdogs, even though they’d not yet conceded a goal in the tournament. 

Qatar’s goals in the final game from Akram Afif, Abdulaziz Hatem and contender for player of the tournament, 22-year-old striker Almoez Ali. 

Ali, who plays his club football for Qatar’s Al-Duhail SC, has caught the eyes of football fans around the world with his performances and goals throughout the tournament. The Sudanese-born Qatari got off to a flyer with seven goals in the group stages, four of which were in the 6-0 thumping of North Korea. Impressive, but as with every striker, fans were waiting to see whether the 22-year-old could score in the big games. Ali did just that, scoring the second goal in the 4-0 Semi-final victory over the UAE, meaning he had eight goals to his name in the tournament, one more goal in the final would put him in the history books as the record scorer in the Asian Cup. 

Ali didn’t seem at all phased by the pressure of playing in his and Qatar’s first tournament final and also having the added pressure of potentially becoming a record breaker on his shoulders. He fired in a thenominal bicycle kick in the 12th minute of the final. 

The tournament victory is huge for the Qatar national team as they look to show the footballing world that they are worthy hosts of the 2022 World Cup. Spanish manager Felix Sanchez had this to say after the sides history making victory- 

“Today we made history for our country, so we need to be very proud about our achievement.

This is one step more towards being ready for 2022 and represent Qatar as a very competitive team at the World Cup.”

Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani congratulated his countries victory on his personal twitter account- 

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.”


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