HISTORY MAKING ASPIRE ACADEMY REACH FIRST EVER AL KASS FINAL
29 Jan 2017, General
Doha, 29 January 2017. Aspire Academy reached the final Al Kass International Cup for the first time ever with a hard fought 2-1 win over Red Bull Salzburg on Sunday 29 January. The Aspire boys, by going where no previous teams from the Doha based Academy have gone before have given credence and vindication to the preparatory work undertaken at Aspire in building top athletes for Qatar. The semi-final win sets up a mouthwatering final against Spanish side Real Madrid and all roads will lead to Aspire Academy as the nation of Qatar is expected to turn up in numbers and cheer on the Aspire Academy team.
Red Bull Salzburg was always going to be tough opponents and confirmed their dominance of the first half with the opening goal of the match scored after 20 minutes by Dominik Szoboszlai. Aspire did well to restrict the Austrians to a single goal and went into the break believing the dream was still on. Head coach Bruno Miguel Nogueira got his tactics right and in a reversal of dominance it was the home side, Aspire causing problems for Red Bull in the second half. The equalizer eventually came from Adbdulrasheed Ibrahim who has made a habit of coming on from the substitute bench and score goals in the competition.
An intriguing battle ensued as both sides went in search of the winner but it was Aspire looking more purposeful and growing in belief. On 80th minute an infringement in the penalty box led to a spot kick for Aspire. Team captain, Nasser Alahrak beat Daniel Antosch in goal for Red Bull with a powerful shot into the bottom corner and Aspire had their noses in front. The dying minutes onslaught expected from Red Bull did come and they threw everything at Aspire in a bid to take the game to a penalty shoot-out but the hosts stood strong with goalkeeper, Shehab Ellethy once again magnificent between posts
Red Bull head coach Marco Rose while congratulating Aspire for victory rued his side’s missed chances especially in the first half when they had the upper hand, “In the end it comes down to the reality that Aspire scored more goals than us and they utilized their chances better than us tonight. We wish them well in the final and this is the culmination of the great work being done here at Aspire. Overall l am pleased with the way we have played in this cup competition and it’s not an excuse but we were two players down on squad of eighteen due to illness therefore tiredness crept in for those players who played 90 minutes of every game.”
Meanwhile Aspire Academy head coach Bruno Miguel Nogueira while accepting congratulatory messages of reaching the final for the first time cautioned on early celebrations saying, “The coaching staff will not allow the players to divert from our original plans and approach. The final remains another game and we will take it as such and continue to prepare as we have done before focusing on playing the best we can and know we are capable of regardless of who the opposition is.”
Aspire Academy will play against Real Madrid in the 2017 Al Kass International Cup on Tuesday 31st January with the kick-off scheduled for 18.15hrs Qatari time.