ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Almoez Ali scored with a spectacular overhead kick for a record ninth goal of the Asian Cup to set Qatar on their way to a first continental title with a stunning 3-1 win over four-times champions Japan on Friday.
Ali’s early goal took him past Ali Daei’s 1996 tally and, combined with a 27th-minute strike from Abdulaziz Hatem and a late Akram Afif penalty, helped the Qataris make an emphatic statement ahead of their hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
Ali - Record - Goal - Protest - Host
Sudan-born Ali’s record goal came after a protest by the host United Emirates FA into his eligibility to represent Qatar was dismissed by the Asian Football Confederation only a few hours before kickoff.
Japan finally found a way through a Qatar defense that had not conceded in six previous matches when Takumi Minamino scored in the 69th minute but the penalty condemned the Samurai Blue to their first defeat in an Asian Cup final.
Victory - Thousands - Omanis - Qatar - Absence
The victory was celebrated wildly by thousands of Omanis who had turned out to support Qatar in the absence of their own fans, who were unable to travel because of a deep political rift with the UAE.
“Today we made history for our country, we need to be very proud about our achievement,” said Qatar coach Felix Sanchez.
Step - Towards - Qatar - Team - World
“This is one step more towards be ready for 2022 and represent Qatar as a very competitive team at the World Cup.”
Japan, chasing a record-extending fifth title, started the brighter but it was the Qataris who drew first blood through the prolific Ali, who was later named Player of the Tournament.
Afif - Ali - Goals - UAE
Afif has set up most of Ali’s goals in the UAE and he was again the...
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