Abu Dhabi, February 2: Beating four-time winner Japan, Qatar claimed their first Asian Cup title on Friday, February 1 in UAE. In the final of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup football tournament at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, Qatar defeated Japan with a lead of 3-1.
Goals from Almoez Ali, Abdulaziz Hatim and Akram Afif helped the Maroons register their first ever continental triumph, under the able guidance of Coach Felix Sanchez. The highlight is that several important players from the current set-up were also a part of the squad which won the AFC Under-19 Championship in 2014 under the tutelage of Felix Sanchez himself.
Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez said the tournament win was a "huge result" for the team. "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”, he said after the match. Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
Celebrations were in full swing in Doha for the historic win by the Gulf Nation. Huge crowds had gathered at several specially-built giant screens in Doha to watch the match against Japan. It was only after minutes of their astonishing victory, when the crowds of jubilant Qataris gathered on the streets with roaring chants for the country, playing traditional Qatari music and waving flags from their cars.
Japan, who was chasing a record-extending fifth title, was a tad disappointed with the loss on the other hand. "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," Japan's coach Hajime Moriyasu admitted.