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Qatar defy odds and blockade to win Asian Cup 2019

Qatar fans are overjoyed at the team's first-ever continental cup win [AFP]

Date of publication: 1 February, 2019

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Qatar are the 2019 Asian Cup winners, beating Japan 3-1 in a tense, nervy match.
Qatar, the dark horses of the Asian Cup 2019, have won the tournament after a remarkable record-breaking run that saw the team concede just one goal.

Qatar beat Japan, who had previously won the continental championship four times, by three goals to one in a tense game that saw some remarkable goals.

The Annabis took the cup in the United Arab Emirates, which has placed Qatar under a strict economic blockade for the past 18 months.

Read also: Flying shoes fail to kill sportsmanship at Qatar-UAE football clash

"I have no words," said coach Felix Sanchez Bas immediately after the game. "We had an outstanding team and worked a lot."

Ali Almoez's 12th minute goal from an outstanding overhead kick - his back to the keeper - set the stage for the first half dominance of Qatar. A second, a curling shot from Abdulaziz Hatem, in the 27th minute, gave the Japanese Blue Samurais a near-impossible target to chase.

But the second half saw Japan play with renewed determination, ending Qatar's clean sheet in the tournament in the 69th minute with a goal from Takumi Minamino.

But a penalty taken by Akram Afif for Qatar ended Japanese dreams of a fifth title in the 83rd minute.

The trophy was handed to Qatar's victorious team by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, while AFC officials were also well represented among the awarding party.

UAE dignitaries were notable by their absence from the podium, with the country having undertaken a number of attempts to end Qatar's run in the tournament - from block-buying 18,000 tickets to the semi-final, ensuring few if any Qatar fans could get a seat, to complaining bitterly about the eligibility of Qatari players.

Read more here: Qatar defiant as UAE tries to ban star players for Asian Cup final

Goalkeeper Saad el-Sheeb picked up $10,000 for the tournament's best goalkeeper award, while Almoez Ali was given the top goalscorer award for his record-breaking nine goals in the tournament.



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