Japan 1-3 Qatar

Bora Milutinovic

Bora Milutinovic

"The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Disciplinary and Ethics Committee today dismissed the protest lodged by the United Arab Emirates Football Association over the eligibility of two Qatar players", an AFC statement said.

Japan reduced the arrears through Takumi Minamino's 69th-minute strike, but a penalty from Akram Afif restored Qatar's two-goal cushion with seven minutes to go, securing the win for Qatar and sending Japan to their first defeat in an Asian Cup final.

Forward Almoez Ali opened the scoreline for Qatar with a brilliant overhead kick to break the record of goals scored in a single Asian Cup, with his ninth goal. Japan were rattled and Qatar almost found a third before half-time, with only the woodwork denying captain Hasan Al Haydos.

The clinical performance from Qatar brought a first Asian Cup triumph in a 3-1 final victory over record champions Japan, in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Qatar's unblemished progress through the tournament has been played out against the backdrop of an 18-month diplomatic crisis that has left the hosts of the 2022 World Cup very isolated within the region.

Qatar was clearly the underdog, ranked 93rd by Federation Internationale de Football Association. 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.

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The Qatar defence looked less assured without him and Japan took full advantage when Yuya Osako played in Minamino and the winger chipped the ball over advancing goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb.

It marked the first goal Qatar had conceded in the tournament.

"I think the AFC should control stuff about penalties and suspensions", Yoshida said yesterday, noting also that Japan's tempestuous 3-0 semi-final victory over Iran had ended with rival players nearly coming to blows.

Having blocked off direct travel to Qatar since June 2017, the UAE made no exemptions even to smooth the journey of the country's Asian Cup team.

The UAE on Thursday formally questioned the eligibility of 22-year-old Almoez Ali and Iraqi-born defender Bassam al-Rawi, 21.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates imposed an embargo for Qatar purportedly supporting radical Islamist groups.

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