Friday 01 February 2019, 13:35

Qatar win maiden continental title

  • Qatar beat four-time champions Japan 3-1 in final

  • Almoez Ali sets new single-tournament goals record (9)

  • They become the ninth different nation to win the Asian Cup

Qatar won their first-ever AFC Asian Cup title with a 3-1 victory over four-time champions Japan. reviews the final of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

Japan 1-3 Qatar Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi

The Qataris opened the scoring in spectacular fashion. The tournament’s leading assist-maker Akram Afif (ten assists) and goalscorer Almoez Ali (nine goals) fittingly combined in what ended with an audacious bicycle kick converted by the 22-year-old striker. Abdelaziz Hatim doubled Qatar’s lead with his second goal at UAE 2019, again assisted by Afif, about a quarter-of-an-hour later with a superb, driven shot outside the penalty area that found the top corner. Japan were rattled and Qatar nearly found a third before half-time, with only the woodwork denying captain Hasan Al Haydos.

Ten minutes after half-time, Afif found Hatim again with an incisive pass in the penalty area after a counter attack, but the midfielder failed to convert the chance and skied his effort well over the crossbar.

Takumi Minamino brought Japan back to within one goal with a chipped finish over Saad Al Sheeb following some neat and incisive passing from the Samurai Blue in Qatar’s penalty area.

Having put forth an incredible ten assists throughout UAE 2019, Afif then saved his first goal for the best possible moment as he converted from the penalty spot after Japan captain Maya Yoshida was adjudged to handle the ball in the area. The Samurai Blue ran out of time to get back into the game following a late miss from Yoshida and Qatar sealed a first-ever Asian Cup championship, winning in their inaugural appearance in the tournament decider.

Did you know?

  • Qatar are the ninth different nation to win the Asian Cup

  • Japan had won all four of their previous Asian Cup final appearances before losing to Qatar

  • Minamino's goal was the first conceded by Qatar at UAE 2019 - they had set a tournament record of recording six consecutive clean sheets at an Asian Cup

  • Qatar and Japan will both compete in this year's Copa America 2019 as invitees

What they said

"I have no words. We beat an outstanding, outstanding team. I think in the first half we played very well, in the second half we had to defend a lot because they obviously want to win the title as well. It was a very tough game. We suffered and we know how to suffer. I’m very happy for the players and all the people in Qatar who supported us from the beginning. Very well deserved, very happy, no words." Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez