Abu Dhabi, 25 January 2019. Historic achievement of Qatar’s football national team: The Maroons advanced to the AFC Asian Cup 2019 semifinals on Friday, beating favorite South Korea 1-0 in the quarters. Next they are going to the meet host nation, the United Arab Emirates, in the last four on Tuesday.
In the exciting clash against South Korea, Felix Sanchez’s side featured five Aspire Academy graduates in the starting line-up including goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb, who remained unbeaten in his fifth consecutive AFC Cup match, defender Tarek Salman, midfielder Salem Al Hajri and strikers Almoez Ali and Akram Afif. Another Aspire-graduate, Ahmed Alaadein, came in the second half as a sub.
A superb second-half goal by Abdelaziz Hatim from distance 12 minutes from time settled a tense yet absorbing affair, one which sees Qatar head into their first-ever AFC Asian Cup semifinal in the nation's 10th appearance in the tournament.
“Friday was a big day for us. We achieved something that is history for us, I want to thank everyone for the support. I think I feel like the happiest coach in the world today. What these players did today is amazing for us and for their country,” said Qatar’s head coach Felix Sanchez after the match.
“I think at the moment they have shown that they can compete, perform well and get results in the competition. The most important thing for a player is to be competitive. So, we are all very proud of them and we hope we can contain in this way,” the Qatar head coach added.
Qatar will now face hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the semifinals on Tuesday, 5pm, and have a real chance to make it to the final of the continental championship with one of the youngest squads in the tournament.