Asian Cup 2019: Qatar through to quarter-finals

Asian Cup 2019: Qatar through to quarter-finals with victory over Iraq
4 min read
23 Jan, 2019
Qatar beats Iraq 1-0 to make it through to the quarter-finals while Bahrain loses to South Korea sending them home.
Qatar's Abdelkarim Hassan celebrates after beating Iraq at al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi [Getty]

Round 16 of the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE is over, with matches between Bahrain and South Korea and Qatar against Iraq.

As for a team based almost completely on semi-professional league players, Bahrain did not fall off their legs against one of the best teams in Asia, especially since Tottenham Hotspurs' Heung Min Son joined South Korea in the middle of the tournament. 

South Korea found the net in the 43rd minute thanks to a great contribution by Son. The one pass broke the Bahraini defence and Hwang Hee Chan sent a deflected ball straight to the net of goalkeeper Mohamed Shubbar.

Bahrain's Mohamed Al-Romaihi, Ali Al-Safi and Sayed Dhia gave all that they could and it paid off in the 77th minute as Al-Romaihi equalised after a quick counter-attack. The game went into extra time.

While Bahrain aimed to survive the extra 30 minutes, the South Koreans looked for the goal and found it. In the 105th minute, a great lob from Lee Yong found the head of substitute Kim Jin-Su, who entered the game only ten minutes before. The score now was 2-1 to South Korea, who survived the second part of the extra time and completed their qualification to quarter-finals.

Bahrain, who fought hard, finished their Asian Cup campaign with a lot of praise, but their appalling human rights record was still a topic of concern during the tournament. Hakeem al-Araibi, a former Bahraini national team player, was jailed in Thailand in November on an Interpol notice after visiting the southeast Asian country for a holiday. The 25-year-old former member of Bahrain's national team, was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 after fleeing his homeland, where he said he was persecuted and tortured. He was sentenced in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalising a police station, a charge he denies.

Al-Araibi, who is now with Melbourne's Pascoe Vale Football Club, has been publicly critical of the Bahrain royal family's alleged involvement in sports scandals, which puts him at risk of punishment by the Bahraini government.

Now, Bahrain will have to face demands to drop charges against Al-Araibi and let the Bahraini-Australian refugee return home.

Read more here: Bahraini footballer kept behind bars as Thailand prepares extradition

Qatar v Iraq

In the second game of the night Qatar and Iraq played an intense and emotional game. The first-half witnessed a fierce battle between the two teams, but then Iraq started to suffer. First Humam Tariq went out with an injury and was substituted by Ali Husni. Then, Husni himself was injured and was replaced by Mahmoud Dawood.

Qatar continued their terrific form from the group stage and kept the high pressure on their Iraqi opponents. They were more organised in the second-half.

In the 60th minute, Bassam Al-Rawy, an Iraqi born Qatari, whose father played for the Iraqi national team in the past, scored a beautiful free kick

In the 60th minute, Bassam Al-Rawy, an Iraqi born Qatari, whose father played for the Iraqi national team in the past, scored a beautiful free kick, that neither the Iraqi wall or Jalal Hachem could have saved. The score was 1-0 to Qatar, and from there on, Qatar did not slip even for a second.

Iraqi tried, and while the support they received in the crowd was huge, they simply couldn't reach a decent scoring chance. If it wasn't enough, Alaa Mhawi was injured, and another substitution was forced on.

Even with a few tries from Ali Adnan and Mohanad Ali in the stoppage time, nothing could have to change the result – Qatar qualified for the quarter-finals.

With this victory, Qatar has reached the quarter-final stages of the Asian Cup for the third time (2000, 2011 and 2019). 

Now, Qatar will meet South Korea but in a match without Abdelkarim Hassan, the left back who has been essential for them throughout the competition.

Qatar is playing a historical tournament in the UAE; however, they have never progressed beyond the quarter-finals. Can they break this record too?

Uri Levy runs the popular football blog BabaGol, which covers football and politics focusing on the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter, and read his blog here.