The Asian Cup UAE 2019 is going to be contested by the 4-time winner and the oil-rich nation, Qatar. The Samurai Blue clinically broke down Iran's impregnable defensive wall with 3 unreplied goals to stake a claim in Friday's final, while The Maroons as Qatar are known reached their 1st ever final by putting 4 goals past the host, UAE and yet to concede a goal.
Having not conceded a single goal in the tournament prior to the match against Japan, Iran seems like an immovable force, the Carlos Queiroz tutored side hopes to go one better with such impressive defence against experience and dogged Japanese side who knows how to grind out results in difficult circumstances. The table was set at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, as about 23000 crowd cheers on in favour of Iran expectedly, Despite this, Japan showed their experience and quickly took early ascendancy of the match, about 66% of the possession to Irans 34%, but Iran grew in confidence as the match progress and took over possession. It was a competitive 1st half with no goal.
The real action started in the 2nd half as the goals rained in, 11 minutes into 2nd half, Japan had a breakthrough goal, Iran's defender neglected his duty to complain to the referee about a call that never came, the Japanese player in question raced to pick up the loose ball and swung in a cross to an unmarked teammate, Werder Bremen striker, Yuya Osaka to nod in a 54th-minute goal. Yuya Osaka scored again in the 67th minutes from the penalty spot after Irans Morteza Pouraliganji handled the ball in the area. Iran huff and puff to get back into the match but to no avail. The Icing was put on Japans cake in the stoppage time, 90+2 minutes when Genki Haraguchi scored the 3rd goal. Japan 3 goals came out of a few 4 shots on target, how clinical can they be compared to Iran's 2 shots with no goal.
Qatar and UAE have both had a great tournament so far, having reached the semifinals defeating the likes of South Korea and Australia respectively along the way. Both teams squared up in a gingerly poised contest, and what a match it turned out to be. The host knew they had it all to do if they are to go past a Qatari defensive strong wall, and we're hoping their 12th player, the home supporters could help jeer the Qatari wall down, it was not meant to be. Playing under the watchful eyes of over 38000 supporting crowd, UAE failed to break down Qatar's back 4. The crowd jeered and booed the Maroons, but despite all, it was Qatar who shocked and silenced the home crowd with a 22nd-minute goal through Boualem Khoukhi, who raced away and side-footed through and under UAE goalkeeper, Khalid Lisa's hands, the goal sparked a reaction from the crowd who rained down missiles unto the pitch, however, it did not dampen Qatar's spirit as they got their 2nd goal in the 37th minute through a fine curler just at the edge of the box from Qatar's Almoez Ali.
The host fans had hoped for a turn around in the 2nd half, but it was the Maroons who picked up from where they left it with another breakaway goal in the 80th minute, Hassan Al Hagdos latched unto teammate, Akram Hassan Afif's flick to chip over the on-rushing UAE goalkeeper, it was game over at this point yet there were still late dramas, a stoppage-time red card to UAE's Ismail Ahmed for elbowing Qatar's Salem Al Harris face after a VAR review, and then, Qatar's 4th goal in stoppage-time 90+3 through Hamid Ismail, to complete the onslaught. The 2022 FIFA World Cup host will play in the Asian Cup for the 1st time in their history and did so without conceding a single goal yet all tournament. The Felix Sanchez Bas' team are truly moving in the right direction in preparation for the world cup.
Japan vs Qatar is going to be a great and entertaining match up, judging by the past meetings between this 2, Japan looks the favourite having won their last encounter 3-2, and in fact, won 2 and drew 1 over Qatar in the last 3 matches. So will it be The Samurai Blues or The Maroons come Friday evening? Time will tell.
Thank you all for your usual encouragement.