Tychy, 30 May 2019. The Qatar U-20 Football National Team concluded the group stage of the 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland with a 1-0 defeat against the United States on Thursday evening. In their last appearance at the tournament, Qatar’s team - comprised of many Aspire Academy graduates – showed a mature and impressive performance, losing to one of the World Cup’s favorites as the better team.
From the beginning of the game, the Qatari put the Americans, that featured Paris Saint-Germain forward Timothy Weah, son of Liberia President and former FIFA Player of the Year George Weah, under pressure and kept creating a number of good chances thanks to well-executed counter attacks. The US team struggled dealing with Qatar’s focused execution of their game plan and close marking and they were fortunate for not conceding a goal before halftime.
In the second half, Qatar stuck to their tactics of pressuring high, allowing the Americans to have more ball possession, that they used to win a number of free-kicks close to Qatar’s box. Nonetheless, Qatar keeper Shebab Mamdouh kept a cool head and showed a rock-solid performance in a Qatari team that impressed with the ability to accelerate the game and to create multiple dangerous situations in the US box.
The negative side of their performance was their ineffectiveness in front of the US goal. Yusuf Abdurisag, Hashim Ali and others had great scoring opportunities, but either missed closely or were denied a goal by Real Salt Lake-goalkeeper David Ochoa.
The closer the game came to an end, it became clear that a lucky punch might decide it and it was Weah in the 76th minute, who ran onto a pass from Mendez at the top of the penalty area, used his right foot to poke the ball through the legs of Qatar captain Ahmed Suhail, then beat goalkeeper Shehab Mamdouh with a right-footed shot from 14 yards.
A tough break for the Qatari, considering that it had been one of the few US shots on goal during the entire 90 minutes.
But the Qatari did not give up and pushed for the equalizer, allowing the Americans more space for counter attacks that were stopped by Qatar keeper Shehab, who also made a superb save from Mendez’s penalty after 85 minutes.
In the end, the 1-0 victory allowed the US to advance to the knockout round where they will face tournament favorite France on Tuesday. Despite finishing the tournament with three defeats, especially the last game against the USA gave proof that Qatar truly deserved to be part of this World Cup and it would be no surprise seeing some of these players soon knocking at the door of Qatar’s first national team if they keep up their hard work and promising development.