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QATAR IS 2019 AFC ASIAN CUP CHAMPION!

01 Feb 2019, General

Abu Dhabi, 1 February 2019. The 1st of February 2019 should become a historical day for Qatar’s football: In their first ever AFC Asian Cup final, the “Maroons” defeated favourites Japan 3-1.

In today’s final, Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez trusted in seven Aspire Academy-graduates in the starting line-up: Goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb, defenders Tarek Salman, Bassam Al-Rawi, and Abdelkarim Hassan, midfielder Assim Madibo, as well as strikers Akram Afif and Almoez Ali. With attacker Ahmed Alaaeldin and midfielder Salem Al Hajri another two Aspire graduates came on in the second half.

The 2022 World Cup hosts were led by 22-year-old striker Almoez Ali, who broke a competition goals record in spectacular fashion as he netted the opener against Japan. Coming into the showpiece match, breakout star Almoez had netted eight goals in the finals to tie Iran forward Ali Daei's single-tournament record from the 1996 edition.

And Almoez took just 12 minutes at Zayed Sports City Stadium to take that honour outright with a stunning goal. After controlling Akram Hassan Afif's cross, the forward teed himself up for a sublime overhead kick that clipped the post on its way into the net for his ninth of the tournament.

Just 15 minutes later, another stunning strike followed when Abdelaziz Hatim found the net from 25 yards out but Japan cut the deficit in half in the 69th minute through Takumi Minamino. Qatar were given the chance to seal the victory in the late stages, however, when the referee penalised Maya Yoshida for a handball in the box after consulting with VAR. Akram Hassan Afif stepped up to coolly convert from the spot and secured the 3-1 victory.

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