By Jawad Hussain
KARACHI, February 1, 2019 (SNN247.com) – Qatar stunned four-time champions Japan by three goals to one to clinch their first-ever AFC Asian Cup soccer title at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates on Friday night.
Almoez Ali was the hero for Qatar, who scored his record ninth goal in the tournament to make sure that Qatar lift their maiden continental title in a grand fashion.
Qatar’s coach of Spanish origin, Mr. Felix Sanchez told the broadcaster after the title triumph that it was a gigantic result for the team as well as for the nation. It is merit mentioning here that Qatar is set to host the FIFA World Cup in the Year 2022.
Felix Sanchez stated, “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.”
Striker Almoez Ali broke the record of Iran’s Ali Daei for scoring most goals in an AFC Asian Cup tournament. Ali Daei scored eight goals in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup. Almoez Ali’s early goal was his ninth in the tournament. His team-mate Abdulaziz Hatem doubled the advantage for Qatar in the 27th minute before Akram Afif scored the third goal for the champions through a penalty.
Almoez Ali’s goal was in a way a celebration of the appeal he won against the host United Emirates FA which protested the Sudan-origin striker’s eligibility to represent Qatar in the tournament. The Asian Football Confederation gave its verdict in Ali’s favor just a few hours ahead of the kickoff.
Japan’s only goal of the night was scored by Takumi Minamino in the 69th minute but they couldn’t score the goals consistently, which brought about their downfall in the big match. This is the first defeat for the Samurai Blue in the AFC Asian Cup finals.
Japan were looking to win a record-extending fifth AFC Asian Cup title. However, Player of the Tournament Almoez Ali had other ideas. He slammed his record goal to dent Japan’s chances of winning their first AFC Asian Cup title since 2011.
Japan’s Coach Hajime Moriyasu said, “Our goal was to win the title, and so I’m disappointed and regretful we could not bring the Cup home to the Japanese people. I always think the winning team is better so in that sense they were.