Qatar trounce UAE 4-2 to reach semis
Al Annabi ride on Afif ’s brace, Hassan and Haydos’ strikes to prevail over United Arab Emirates 4-2 at a packed Khalifa Intl Stadium
NEWLY-CROWNED Asian Player of the Year Akram Afif dazzled with a brace as Qatar beat the UAE 4-2 in a pulsating encounter at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday to qualify for the semi-finals of the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup.
Over 43,780 fans at the stadium were treated to one of Qatar’s best performance so far in the Gulf Cup as Afif, Hassan al Haydos and Boualem Khoukhi scored for the Maroons.
Qatar, three-time winners of the biennial regional football tournament, finished second in Group A and will now face Group B winners Saudi Arabia in the semi-final on Thursday. In the other semis, Bahrain set up a clash with Iraq.
“Congratulations to the players and our fans for the result. The players did well, though we knew a draw would be enough. The players started with the right mindset. We conceded the first goal when we were playing our game but in the second half we created chances. We deserve the result,” Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said.
“In all the three games, we tried our best but we know the first game is always difficult. I think the players showed good temperament and played with great personality especially after losing to Iraq. We are growing in the competition. We have just two days to recover but we will try to recover in a good condition to play the semis,” Sanchez quipped.
NEWLY crowned Asian Player of the Year Akram Afif dazzled with a brace as Qatar beat the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 4-2 in a pulsating encounter at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday to qualify for the semi-final of the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup.
The 43,780 fans in the stadium were treated to arguably Qatar’s best performance so far in the Gulf Cup as Afif, Hassan al Haydos and Boualem Khoukhi all scored for the Maroons.
Qatar qualify second with six points in Group A, one point behind leaders Iraq who were held to a goalless draw by Yemen.
The hosts will meet Saudi Arabia in the semi-final, who beat defending champions Oman 3-1.
Bahrain set up the other last four clash with Iraq after they beat ten-time champions Kuwait 4-2.
Despite needing only a draw to qualify, Al Annabi started the match on the attack and created two quick chances as the trio of Afif, Almoez Ali and Haydos led the attack.
Afif slipped in Almoez Ali with a well-weighted pass but his shot was pushed out by UAE goalkeeper Mohammed al Shamsi.
That miss didn’t matter as Afif soon put the hosts ahead right on the 20th minute. UAE’s Mohammed al Matroushi’s clearance was blocked by Almoez and the ball fell kindly to Afif who took one touch l before slotting the ball past Al Shamsi sending the fans at the Khalifa Stadium into hysteria.
Eight minutes later, Afif made it two when VAR confirmed the ball had touched UAE’s Mohamed al Menhali’s hand in the box after tussle with Karim Boudiaf. Afif stepped up, sending Al Shamsi the wrong way.
Ali Mabkhout pulled UAE pulled one back for the UAE in the 32nd from the penalty spot after Saad al Sheeb brought down Bandar al Abhabi, leaving Japanese referee Ryuji Sato no choice.
Abdelkarim Hassan’s stunner cannoned off Al Shamsi’s as Qatar went into the break with a slender lead.
“Congratulations to the players and our fans for the result. The players did well, though we knew a draw would be enough. The players started with the right mentality. We conceded the first goal when we were playing our game but in the second half we created chances. We deserve the result at the end of the 90 mins,” Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said after the match.
Al Annabi began the second half were they had left off on the attack and Afif saw his curler bounce of the cross bar.
However, the three-time champions were not to be denied a third thanks to the brilliance of Haydos and Almoez. The strikers played a one-two before Haydos smashed into the bottom corner from inside the box eight minutes in.
Two goals up, Qatar had their foot of the pedal and Mabkhout had a chance for the UAE but directed his header wide off the mark after a spell of possession for the Emiratis.
“In all the three games, we tried our best but we know the first game is always difficult. I think the players showed a good level and they played with great personality especially after losing to Iraq. We are growing in the competition. We have just two days to recover but we will try to recover in a good condition to play the semis,” Sanchez quipped.
Abdulaziz Hatem returned to the team after recovering from a shoulder injury sustained against Yemen. The Al Rayyan midfielder replaced Haydos carved out an opening for himself but his effort with his weaker right foot was easily gathered by Al Shamsi.
Tarek Salman’s poor clearance almost gifted Mabkhout his second of the night but the striker skewered his shot harmlessly wide.
The 29-year-old soon made up for the earlier miss 13 minutes from time when a corner kick bounced off Almoez, rolled into the path of Mabkhout whose shot beat Al Sheeb from close range.
The UAE enjoyed more possession towards the end of the 90 but a quick break involving Almoez and Afif needed a last ditch dive from Khalifa al Hammadi.
Boualem Khoukhi put the match beyond the Emiratis in added time when the Al Sadd star powered home a header from Hatem’s corner.
“We lost to a strong team who are champions of Asia. They have been playing together for a long time. Unfortunately a few of our players were injured and couldn’t play, we were also a bit unlucky,” UAE coach Bert Van Marwijk said.
Qatar’s Abdelkarim Hassan waves the national flag as he celebrates his team’s victory over the UAE at the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup Group A football match at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday.
Qatar’s Boualem Khoukhi (3rd left) heads the ball to score the fourth goal for the hosts during the crucial 24th Arabian Gulf Cup Group A match against the United Arab Emirates at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday. Three-time Gulf Cup champions Qatar will lock horns with Saudi Arabia in the second semi-final on Thursday at 8pm.
HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al Thani, President, Qatar Olympic Committee; HE Sheikh Hamad bin Suhaim al Thani; Dr Thani bin Abdulrahman al Kuwari, Second Vice-President, QOC; Jassim Rashid al Buenain, Secretary-General, QOC; and 24th Arabian Gulf Cup Football Federation Committee Members applaud at the end of Qatar’s match against UAE at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday.
Qatar players clap for the ‘2019 Asian Player of the Year’ Akram Afif after he scored the opening goal against UAE in the crucial Group A Gulf Cup match in Doha on Monday.
Qatar players thank the capacity crowd after qualifying for the semis at the Khalifa International Stadium on Monday.
Star of the day, Akram Afif celebrates scoring the first goal.
A fan celebrates with the Qatar flag at the Khalifa Intl Stadium.
A football buff at 24th Arabian Gulf Cup’s action on Monday.