Considered underdog at the outset the 2019 Asian Cup, Qatar is en route for a continental crown, making history for a novice football nation whose greatest achievement to date is the securing the hosting rights of 2022 world cup.
Rabat – Qatar trashes host nation UAE 4-0, emerging as the dominant side in its second “blockade derby” at the 2019 Asian Cup.
When Qatar’s players entered the Abu Dhabi stadium this afternoon to take on the host country UAE in the second semi finals of this year’s Asian Cup, they had already made history by beating one of the South Korea, one of the tournament’s favorites.
But the buildup to the encounter with UAE suggested the hosts, keen on reminding Qatari players that they were on hostile soil, were ready to make the game the most challenging for their opponents.
Qatar’s first “blockade derby,” the final group stage game against Saudi Arabia, was relatively incidence-free. Officials from both countries had promised that the geopolitical crisis between the two countries would have no impact on a “simple” football match.
Here, though, playing in a stadium that had officially no Qatari fan, the game was explicitly played and framed as part of the ongoing Gulf crisis.
Qatar, meanwhile, seemingly oblivious to the obvious hostility from a crowd that had acquired government-purchased tickets to make the encounter a nightmare for Qatari players, counted on its football, as it had done in previous encounters, to keep its records at this tournament.
The composure of Qatari players was rewarded, with the first goal of the game coming early, at the 22th minute.
While UAE players looked for an equalizer to revamp their dream of reaching the final for a second time in row, Qatar’s talismanic striker Almoez Ali smashed in his team’s second goal at the 37th minute, making the home crowd nervous and more hostile.
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As Ali and his mates celebrated the young striker’s eighth goal at the tournament, UAE fans started throwing sandals at the opposition players, suggesting that, at 2-0 down in the first half, the host country’s hopes of reaching the semi finals were slowly evaporating. There already was an air of resignation in the air.
Although more tense than the first, the second half settled Qatar’s grandstand dominance as the game evolved. Dodging sandals and defying slurs, Qatar was compact throughout.
At the 80th minutes, Hassan Khalid Al Haydos inflicted more pain to the home crowd with a third goal. The goal, killing any hopes that were left of miracle come back from the previous 2-0 lead, momentarily silenced the stadiums.
At that point, UAE players stared in the void while fans, visibly dismayed, fought to resign to a heavy defeat at the hands of a regional rivalry.
But Qatar was not quite done. Adding insult to injury, Hamid Ismail sent in a fourth goal. That goal was greeted by a barrage of battles from the home crowd.
Qatar will take on Japan in the final on Friday.