Abu Dhabi: Qatar stunned Japan 3-1 to win their first Asian Cup sparked by a moment of magic from record-breaker Almoez Ali and after nail-biting late drama.
Sudan-born striker Ali scored with an acrobatic bicycle kick after just 12 minutes before Abdelaziz Hatim curled in a superb second and Akram Afif converted a VAR-assisted penalty to give the 2022 World Cup hosts a famous victory in Abu Dhabi.
Qatar survived a scare at 2-0 when Takumi Minamino pulled one back on 69 minutes, only for Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov to award the Maroons a penalty on review for a handball by Japan captain Maya Yoshida.
Ali became the first player to score nine goals at a single Asian Cup after only being cleared to play just hours before kickoff following a UAE protest over his eligibility.
The Qataris had been pelted with plastic bottles and shoes during the 4-0 semi-final thrashing of hosts United Arab Emirates over the Gulf blockade of the tiny, energy-rich state.
Emirati football officials subsequently lodged a formal protest over the eligibility of Ali and Iraqi-born defender Bassam Al-Rawi, which has been thrown out by the Asian Football Confederation.
Qatar had never before gone beyond the Asian Cup quarter-finals but they scored 16 unanswered goals coming into the final and kept a record six clean sheets.
Japan, meanwhile, had never lost an Asian Cup final, winning the last of their record four titles in 2011.
But the Blue Samurai were soon chopped down to size by Ali’s outrageous opener, taking him past Iran legend Ali Daei’s record tally of eight goals at the 1996 tournament.
Cleverly found by Afif, Ali flicked the ball up to himself before launching into an overhead volley that left Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda helpless as it flew in off the post.
Ali almost scored again within a minute, only to be denied by a desperate block from Yoshida.
However, Qatar doubled their lead in the 27th minute after yet another Afif assist — his 10th of the tournament — as Hatim bent in a sumptuous left-foot shot from distance.
Japan, whose only previous Asian Cup defeat by Qatar came 31 years ago, mustered little of note, much to the chagrin of their colourful fans among a crowd of 36,000 — several sporting fancy dress, including one hardy soul in an inflatable sumo suit.
That all changed when Minamino breached Qatar’s defence for the first time this tournament with a delicate chip after Hatim had blazed over from close range.
But moments later Afif ended Japan’s resistance from the spot to complete a fairytale triumph for Qatar.
Rasikh Salam banned for two years for submitting faulty birth certificate
Mumbai Indians and Jammu and Kashmir pacer Rasikh Salam has been handed a two-year ban by the BCCI after he was found to have submitted a faulty birth certificate to the board.
Subsequently, he has been removed from the under-19 squad that will travel to England to play in a tri-series and has been replaced by Prabhat Maurya.
Salam, a pacer from J&K, made news when he debuted for Mumbai Indians in this Indian Premier League. He was the third player from Jammu & Kashmir to get an IPL contract – after Parvez Rasool and Manzoor Dar – and only the second after Rasool to get into the playing XI. He hails from Ashmuji village in southern part of Kashmir, which is often said to be affected by curfew and power cuts. Mumbai Indians picked him for his base price of INR 20 lakh.
Earlier this week, IANS had reported that Salam could be in trouble for age fraud after the Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education informed JKCA that the age Salam gave the board doesn’t match the records they posses.
JKCA and the BCCI soon got involved in the matter and a two year ban was deemed appropriate.
Dhoni could be ‘exposed’ by Yuvraj’s dad after World Cup
Mumbai: Father of recently retired former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, Yograj has struck again, and all the signs point toward former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
While the cricketer is busy preparing for India’s next clash against Pakistan on Sunday after rain played spoilsport on the much-hyped India-New Zealand clash, a recent video of Yograj has surfaced where he speaks about an ‘un-named’ player who is responsible for the ‘dirty politics’ in the Indian cricket team.
Yograj further goes on to state that this player is the reason that many players like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, and his own son Yuvraj Singh were not included in the Indian team at crucial points in time.
While Yograj didn’t reveal much about the player he talks about, he did mention that he’d make the complete revelations after the currently ongoing 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. Based on earlier allegations by Yograj, who was also a former pace bowler, towards then Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, It seems pretty evident that he is speaking of ‘Captain Cool’.
“I don’t want to take his name but he has been playing these dirty politics from the last 15 years. He has made lives difficult for Indian cricketers. I will make this revelation after the World Cup gets over. He will remember this for life that someone said something about him,” said Yograj.
“I don’t want to speak about him at this point in time because I don’t want the team to get affected during the World Cup,” he added.
FIFA Rankings: India unmoved at 101
London: The Indian national team remain unmoved in the June 2019 edition of the FIFA Rankings released.
Following India’s exit from the 2019 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup, India have had a change in coach with Igor Stimac replacing Stephen Constantine.
Under Stimac, India recently participated in the King’s Cup 2019 in Thailand where a 3-1 defeat against Curacao (79) was backed by a 1-0 win over hosts Thailand (116) in the third-place play-off.
GFX India FIFA Rankings June 2019
The Blue Tigers are set to face Tajikistan (120), DPR Korea (122) and Syria (85) in the upcoming Intercontinental Cup 2019 next. India enter the tournament as defending champions.
Meanwhile, in the global standings, Belgium continue to lead at the top having bettered their advantage over second-placed France who also stay put in their position, the same as Brazil and England at third and fourth spots respectively.
2019 UEFA Nations League champions Portugal have displaced Croatia to stand fifth while Spain (7) has gained two places. Germany (11 – tied with Argentina), Italy and Netherlands (both at 14) have also moved two places up.
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