Sunday, December 8, 2019
Home /  Sports  /  Asian champions Qatar rock, and roll into the semi-finals

Asian champions Qatar rock, and roll into the semi-finals

Asian champions Qatar rock, and roll into the semi-finals

Ayeni Olusegun
Doha
Newly crowned Asian Player of the Year Akram Afif dazzled with a brace as Qatar beat the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 4-2 in a pulsating encounter at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday to qualify for the semi-final of the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup.
The 43,780 fans in the stadium were treated to arguably Qatar’s best performance so far in the Gulf Cup as Afif, Hassan al Haydos and Boualem Khoukhi all scored for the Maroons.
Qatar qualify second with six points in Group A, one point behind leaders Iraq who were held to a goalless draw by Yemen.
The hosts will meet Saudi Arabia in the semi-final, who beat defending champions Oman 3-1.
Bahrain set up the other last four clash with Iraq after they beat ten-time champions Kuwait 4-2.
Despite needing only a draw to qualify, Al Annabi started the match on the attack and created two quick chances as the trio of Afif, Almoez Ali and Haydos led the attack.
Afif slipped in Almoez Ali with a well-weighted pass but his shot was pushed out by UAE goalkeeper Mohammed al Shamsi.
That miss didn’t matter as Afif soon put the hosts ahead right on the 20th minute. UAE’s Mohammed al Matroushi’s clearance was blocked by Almoez and the ball fell kindly to Afif who took one touch l before slotting the ball past Al Shamsi sending the fans at the Khalifa Stadium into hysteria.
Eight minutes later, Afif made it two when VAR confirmed the ball had touched UAE’s Mohamed al Menhali’s hand in the box after tussle with Karim Boudiaf. Afif stepped up, sending Al Shamsi the wrong way.
Ali Mabkhout pulled UAE pulled one back for the UAE in the 32nd from the penalty spot after Saad al Sheeb brought down Bandar al Abhabi, leaving Japanese referee Ryuji Sato no choice.
Abdelkarim Hassan’s stunner cannoned off Al Shamsi’s as Qatar went into the break with a slender lead.
“Congratulations to the players and our fans for the result. The players did well, though we knew a draw would be enough. The players started with the right mentality. We conceded the first goal when we were playing our game but in the second half we created chances. We deserve the result at the end of the 90 mins,” Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said after the match.
Al Annabi began the second half were they had left off on the attack and Afif saw his curler bounce of the cross bar.
However, the three-time champions were not to be denied a third thanks to the brilliance of Haydos and Almoez. The strikers played a one-two before Haydos smashed into the bottom corner from inside the box eight minutes in.
Two goals up, Qatar had their foot of the pedal and Mabkhout had a chance for the UAE but directed his header wide off the mark after a spell of possession for the Emiratis.
“In all the three games, we tried our best but we know the first game is always difficult. I think the players showed a good level and they played with great personality especially after losing to Iraq. We are growing in the competition. We have just two days to recover but we will try to recover in a good condition to play the semis,” Sanchez quipped.
Abdulaziz Hatem returned to the team after recovering from a shoulder injury sustained against Yemen. The Al Rayyan midfielder replaced Haydos carved out an opening for himself but his effort with his weaker right foot was easily gathered by Al Shamsi.
Tarek Salman’s poor clearance almost gifted Mabkhout his second of the night but the striker skewered his shot harmlessly wide.
The 29-year-old soon made up for the earlier miss 13 minutes from time when a corner kick bounced off Almoez, rolled into the path of Mabkhout whose shot beat Al Sheeb from close range.
The UAE enjoyed more possession towards the end of the 90 but a quick break involving Almoez and Afif needed a last ditch dive from Khalifa al Hammadi.
Boualem Khoukhi put the match beyond the Emiratis in added time when the Al Sadd star powered home a header from Hatem’s corner.
“We lost to a strong team who are champions of Asia. They have been playing together for a long time. Unfortunately a few of our players were injured and couldn’t play, we were also a bit unlucky,” UAE coach Bert Van Marwijk said.
The former Dutch coach added that the UAE gave away easy goals which killed off the game for them.
“We gave them free goals and it’s probably cos we aren’t experienced. We controlled parts of the game but at the end we lost and we probably deserved to. In important moments we gave the goals away and that’s what killed us.”How they qualifiedGroup A
Nation M W D L GF GA GD Pts
Iraq 3 2 1 0 4 1 3 7
Qatar 3 2 0 1 11 4 7 6
UAE 3 1 0 2 5 6 -1 3
Yemen 3 0 1 2 0 9 -9 0

Pages

POST A COMMENT