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Qatar: The new Asian sports powerhouse ahead of world cup 2022

With an amazing showcase of skills and teamwork, the Al-Annabis became the continental champions for the first time.

Last updated: 08.02.2019
Qatar The new Asian sports powerhouse ahead of world cup 2022 | Sports Social Blog

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When former FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced Qatar as the 2022 World Cup host in 2010, there were allegations from certain parts of the world. There were accusations like this was a country with little to no football history. In all genuine, it was the same feeling in much of Asia. Interestingly, eight years have past and all the criticism has fallen apart with Qatar defeating Japan 3-1 in the Asian Cup 2019 final.

With an amazing showcase of skills and teamwork, the Al-Annabis became the continental champions for the first time in their first final appearance.

In truth, Qatar were the deserving winners in this tournament overall. Although they were never considered as the favourites, Qatar was no minnow in Asian Cup 2019. A tally of 19 goals overall and conceding just one tells its own tale. But there are plenty more.


In Image: Qatar football team after winning the AFC Asian Cup 2019

For example, take Almoez Ali. The young forward took just 12 minutes to get a goal on the scoreboard at Zayed Sports City against a team looking for a fifth title. Probably the best goal of the tournament, Ali score from a bicycle kick from inside the area.

It did not really matter that Maya Yoshida gave too much time and space and goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda was slow to get across, it was a goal to light up any final. The goal settled the nerves for the Blue Samurais and also broke Ali Daei’s 22-year-old record. It also marked a ninth assist for Akram Afif.

Sadly, this was the only time when the Japanese could do anything in the final. A naive defending blunder from Yoshida helps Qatar take the lead, courtesy of Abdulaziz Hatem.

The five-time champions were all over the place. It is hard to recall a game against Asian opposition when they were so clearly second best. Qatar was probably the youngest squad of the tournament with 11 of the 23 players 22 or less. Interestingly, these young legs looked much mature than the old Japanese who were scrambling around, chasing shadows.

Back in 2017, it was assumed that manager Felix Sanchez Bas would be replaced by a big-name for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup preparations. South Korea had appointed Guss Hiddink 18 months prior to the start of 2002 World Cup and reached the semifinal.

Doing something similar, and perhaps a little earlier was considered an obvious move for those in charge in Doha. But not anymore. The temptation has been buried deep inside for the time being. The unknown Spaniard general (Sanchez), has constructed a team that is tactically sound and flexible. Moreover, they do not rely on star players to go past higher ranked opponents.

Given the age of the players in the current squad, the Asian Cup 2019 win gives them the confidence for the upcoming 2022 World Cup.

Copa America which is in June will offer more international exposure in a very different football environment. It will be interesting to watch the Asian champions in action in Brazil. After their win against Switzerland and a draw with Iceland, there is no reason for the Al-Annabis to not feel confident. For now, it is all about Qatar who is on cloud nine as they start their preparations for the coveted FIFA World Cup.

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