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Qatar stun Japan to win 2019 Asian Cup, first-ever title (video)

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Qatar won its first-ever Asian Cup title, as their fairytale run to the 2019 final ended in glory.

The 93rd-ranked team in the world are officially the best team in Asia.

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Previously they had never reached the knockout rounds of the tournament, but the side managed by Felix Sanchez Bas only conceded one goal during the two-week long competition in the United Arab Emirates, as they beat Japan 3-1 in the final in Abu Dhabi.

Almoez Ali and Abdulaziz Hatem scored sensational first half goals to secure the trophy, as Ali led the tournament with nine goals and set a new record for the most goals scored in a single Asian Cup.

Akram Afif scored a late penalty kick to make it 3-1 after Minamino halved the deficit amid sustained second half pressure from Japan.

There was drama off the field ahead of the final, though.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) was called in by the UAE — the tournament hosts who lost to Qatar at the semifinal stage — regarding an appeal over some of Qatar’s players not being eligible, but the winners were found not guilty of any wrongdoing before kick off.

The underdogs jumped into an early 2-0 lead thanks to a stunning overhead kick goal from Almoez Ali.

Then Abdulaziz Hatem (who scored the winner against South Korea in the quarterfinal) spanked home a wonderful shot from distance to stun Japan.

Try as they might Japan couldn’t claw back the deficit as Minamino made it 2-1 with 22 minutes to go, but that was as good as it got for the Samurai Blue.

Qatar held on as Afif sealed the win from the penalty spot after a controversial spot kick was awarded.

With the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar, this incredible success well and truly marks the arrival of The Maroons on the international stage.

VIDEO: Qatar score amazing goal in Asian Cup final

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Qatar’s Almoez Ali is setting new records and he’s doing it in style.

Ali scored his ninth goal of the 2019 Asian Cup in the final, as he set a new record for the most goals scored by a player in a single Asian Cup tournament.

Not content with a tap in to seal that remarkable record, Ali scored out of nothing.

He controlled a routine cross with his left foot, flicked the ball up to himself with his right and then sent home a bicycle kick to put underdogs Qatar 1-0 up early on.

Click play on the video below to see the amazing strike from Ali.


Asian Cup organizers review UAE complaint on Qatar players

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Throwing Qatar’s appearance in the Asian Cup final in doubt, organizers are investigating a complaint by the United Arab Emirates about the eligibility of two Qatar players from the semifinal.

The complaint adds another layer to Qatar’s politically-charged progress to Friday’s final of the continental soccer showpiece in the UAE, which as a country is part of a quartet boycotting Doha diplomatically and politically.

There was an angry reaction from the home crowd in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday as the UAE was beaten in the semifinal, with shoes thrown at Qatari players after striker Almoez Ali scored the second goal in a 4-0 win.

The UAE soccer federation has now questioned whether Ali, with a tournament-leading tally eight goals, and Bassam Al-Rawi meet FIFA’s requirements to play for the 2022 World Cup host nation.

“The Asian Football Confederation has received a protest from the United Arab Emirates FA regarding the eligibility of two Qatar players,” the governing body said in a statement on Thursday. “This protest will now be reviewed in line with the AFC regulations.”

The ultimate sanction would see Qatar having to forfeit the match. Qatar is due to play Japan on Friday in its first-ever Asian Cup final.

An hour after announcing the review of the complaint into Qatar, the AFC’s newsletter was headlined: “Excitement builds towards a thrilling finale.”

Asian Cup: Qatar routs UAE, amid insults and flying shoes, to reach final

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Amid shoes being thrown in insult, Qatar won its politically charged match against host United Arab Emirates 4-0 Tuesday and advanced to the Asian Cup final.

The Qataris, who will host the World Cup in 2022, have won all six of their matches and have yet to concede a goal — the first country to do that at the continental soccer championship.

Qatar will face four-time champion Japan on Friday in the final. Both teams were invited last year to play at the Copa America in 2019, giving the winner of this week’s match a chance to win a second continental title in July.

A regional boycott of Qatar, led by Saudi Arabia, has impacted the team’s logistics at the Asian Cup and made it difficult for the country’s fans to attend games. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt are also part of the boycott.

The Qataris, however, have denied accusations that they support extremists.

On the soccer field, Qatar beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 in the group stage before the 4-0 rout of UAE on Tuesday at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.

Boualem Khoukhi gave Qatar the lead in the 22nd minute, and Almoez Ali doubled the advantage 15 minutes later.

The second goal prompted the UAE fans to start throwing their shoes at the Qatari players, an act which is considered to be an insult.

The Asian Football Confederation said it could launch an investigation.

“Any incident of this nature will be contained in the official match report which will then be investigated by the AFC,” the soccer body said.

Ali’s goal was his eighth of the tournament, equaling the record set by Iran forward Ali Daei in 1996 when the Asian Cup was also hosted by the UAE. The 22-year-old Ali will have a chance to break the record against Japan on Friday.

Qatar added two more goals late in the match, the first from Hasan Al Haydos in the 80th minute and the last from Hamid Ismaeil seconds after coming off the bench with time winding down.

The UAE played the final seconds with 10 men after Ismail Ahmed was sent off for a rough tackle.

Japan reach Asian Cup final after hammering Iran (video)

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Japan have reached the 2019 Asian Cup final as they cruised past Iran 3-0 in their semifinal Monday at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.

[ MORE: Latest Asian Cup news ] 

The Samurai Blue scored three times in the second half to seal the victory, as Southampton’s Maya Yoshida has skippered the Japanese national team throughout the tournament.

Newcastle’s Yoshinori Muto was an unused sub in the semifinal.

Yuya Osako scored twice in 11 minutes to put Japan in the driving seat and Genki Haraguchi’s stoppage time penalty kick sealed the deal.

Japan last won the Asian Cup in 2011, and this is the first final they have reached since then.

They are the most successful team in Asian Cup final history with four titles to their name.

Japan will play either hosts UAE or surprise package Qatar in the final, as the minnows meet in Abu Dhabi in the other semifinal on Wednesday.

The final will take place Friday at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.