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

Qatar Tribune - - Front Page - AYENI OLUSE­GUN

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.

(AFP)

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.

(AFP)

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.

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