Asian Cup: Qatar stun Japan to complete fairy-tale triumph

Asian Cup Qatar UAE AFC

South Korea were joined by the one Asian player of world stature for their third match but a worn out Son Heung-min failed to revive their lacklustre campaign and returned to Tottenham Hotspur after the quarter-final loss to Qatar.

Throwing Qatar's appearance in the Asian Cup final in doubt, organisers are investigating a complaint by the United Arab Emirates about the eligibility of two Qatar players from the semifinal.

"To win seven games in a row, we deserve to be champions", Qatar coach Felix Sanchez told AFP as thousands took to the streets back in Doha, many waving flags from auto windows and honking their horns in celebration.

Qatar coach Felix Sanchez, however, insisted the 2022 World Cup hosts were confident ahead of the country's first appearance in the final after comfortably winning all six of their matches and keeping a record six clean sheets.

Abdulaziz Hatem doubled Qatar's lead in the 27th minute, and while Japan reduced the arrears through Takumi Minamino's 69th-minute strike, a late penalty from Akram Afif secured Qatar's first-ever Asian Cup title. It's a great day for me and the players and the country.

But the tournament ended in heartbreak for Yoshida, who ironically conceded a VAR-assisted penalty that gifted Qatar their third goal and effectively ended Japan's resistance in the final.

Players can feature for the national team other than their birthplace if they comply with FIFA's requirements.

"I don't want to see any stupid things after the game because we are really representing Asia", Southampton defender Yoshida told reporters.

Solid in defence and lightning quick on the counter-attack, Qatar were worthy winners of the Asian Cup.

The Al-Sadd forward has been involved in 12 out of Qatar's 19 goals in this tournament and has played every minute in the Asian Cup which only underlines his importance in Sanchez's system. In the last years, this group of players worked in the right direction with the right mentality to be in the top of the competition.

He also referred to an incident in Japan's semifinal against Iran in which midfielder Gaku Shibasaki appeared to be slapped in the face by an opposing player in the waning moments of the game. We worked very hard and we're very proud and very happy.

It's just seven months since Japan matched their best ever finish at a World Cup as they reached the last 16 in Russian Federation, reconfirming their status as their Asia's top side.

In farcical scenes after Friday's final, Saudi journalists berated Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu for not having delivered the thumping they felt Qatar deserved, rants that the bemused Moriyasu answered with a polite "thank you".

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