History! Qatar clinch Asian Cup title for first time, beat Japan 3-1 in the final –
Haridev Pushparaj –
Muscat, feb 1 –
Qatar imprinted their name into the annals of Asian Cup history as they stunned a shell-shocked Japan side 3-1 in the final on Friday to clinch their first ever Asian Cup title.
With the victory, Qatar became the third country from the GCC to win the prestigious Asian Cup after Kuwait (1980) and Saudi Arabia (1984, 1988, 1996). The record-breaking Almoez Ali struck his ninth goal of the tournament in the 12th minute and laid the foundation for his country’s epoch-making effort while Abdelaziz Hatim netted a screamer 15 minutes later.
Takumi Minamino had raised hopes of a Japanese resurgence with a goal in the 69th minute but Akram Hasan Afif’s 83rd minute penalty sealed the deal for Qatar.
Almoez, with his nine-goal effort ended the tournament as the highest goalscorer in a single Asian Cup after dismantling the previous record of eight goals set by Iran’s Ali Daei in the 1996 edition.
The hosts of the 2022 Fifa World Cup have made a definitive statement to the international footballing community with their exploits in this edition of the continental showpiece.
Qatar were appearing at their first-ever AFC Asian Cup final and were relative underdogs in comparison to Japan, who were making their fifth appearance in the summit clash.
In their fifth meeting at the Asian Cup, Qatar showed their rampaging form throughout the first half as the two stupendous goals came about from two classy players, Almoez and Hatim. Japan had a clear upper-hand in their last four Asian Cup meetings against Qatar, winning three and losing just one.
However, on the big day, history clearly made no impact on the ground as the ‘Blue Samurai’ were made to bite the dust by the rampant Qatar strikers.
Qatar’s semifinal against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had attracted a lot of attention in that country with the stadium filled to capacity by Emirati supporters and a partisan crowd clearly against them.
The Qataris had shocked the Emiratis handing them a humiliating 4-0 defeat in front of a huge home crowd that grew agitated as the game progressed. The title victory was a deserving reward for a team that has been nothing short of a revelation at this edition of the Asian Cup.