It was a day of huge shocks in the 2019 Asian Cup, as two soccer minnows reached the semifinal stage and one of them will be in the final on Feb. 1.
In Qatar’s case, it was the first time they’ve reached the final four of this tournament in their history. Qatar is currently 93rd in FIFA’s world rankings.
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Qatar and hosts UAE edged by Asian Football Confederation (AFC) giants South Korea and Australia respectively, as a single goal in the second half of each game did the damage.
Due to their injury issues, Tottenham Hotspur will be very happy that South Korean captain Heung-Min Son is heading home as he could now be available for their Premier League clash with Watford on Wednesday. While hosts UAE stunned reigning champs Australia in front of a jubilant home crowd in Abu Dhabi.
Below is a brief recap on what happened in the two quarterfinals on Thursday, as Qatar and UAE will now play each other for a place in the final with Iran and Japan clashing in the other semifinal.
Qatar 1-0 South Korea
The hosts for the 2022 World Cup reached their first-ever Asian Cup semifinal in stunning fashion, as they knocked out red-hot favorites South Korea. Captained by Heung-min Son, the Koreans had the majority of the play but couldn’t break through. Then Abdulaziz Hatem struck a wonderful effort from distance which sent Qatar into the final four. South Korea did score a few moments after Hatem’s opener, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside. Spurs sent out a message of commiseration for Son, but we all know they are delighted to have him back after the injuries to Harry Kane and Dele Alli over the past two weeks.
United Arab Emirates 1-0 Australia
The local hero Ali Mabkhout scored the winner with 22 minutes to go, and Australia had no answer. The reigning champs are out. Al-Jazira striker Mabkhout took his tally at the tournament to four goals as he latched onto a poor back pass from Degenek, rounded Mat Ryan and scored. Another PL club will benefit from Australia’s unexpected early exit, as Brighton will get starting goalkeeper Ryan back. Take a look below at the moment the UAE made it through to their second-straight Asian Cup semifinal, as Mabkhout played the hero in his hometown.