1/31/2019 10:50:43 PM (GMT+3)

Qatar aim for Asian Cup history against Japan

Qatar aim for Asian Cup history against Japan

DOHA, Qatar: In what could be a mouth-watering clash in the AFC Asian Cup final, first-time finalists Qatar will seek to script history by overcoming continental powerhouse Japan in Abu Dhabi on Sunday .

Japan, known as the Blue Samurai, will also aim for a record fifth glory in the competition. 

The Qataris never progressed beyond the quarterfinals before this tournament, but the team spearheaded by forwards Akrim Afif and Ali Almoez catapulted the side to the top as they went on to beat staunch oppositions like Iraq, Saudi Arabia and hosts UAE. 

“This is definitely the most important game in Qatar’s football history,” said Qatar coach Felix Sanchez, acknowledging that the game will be their toughest 90 minutes. 

“We are now obviously at the stage of the tournament where the team is in a confident mood and looking forward to starting the game. Obviously, if we win the trophy, it will be Qatar’s biggest achievement in terms of football.”

Japan, on the other hand, had a sluggish start to the tournament, unlike Qatar. Although the Japanese won all their matches at the group stages, they achieved narrow wins over Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Even in the knockout stages, Japan’s victory against both Saudi Arabia and Vietnam was not smooth sailing. However, the team coached by Hajime Moriyasu excelled when they thumped Iran 3-0 and silenced all critics.

For Japan, all eyes will be on 28-year-old forward Yuya Osako and solid defending from captain Maya Yoshida. 20-year-old Takehiro Tomiyasu is also expected to play a pivotal role in the summit clash. Thus, Japan will have an edge when they take on Qatar, given their impressive semi-final win over powerhouse Iran. 

“We’ve already played six matches and we know they’re a strong opponent, so we have one more fight to do and we’re going to do it with determination so that our players can have the best performance on the field,” Japan’s coach Hajime Moriyasu said at the pre-match press conference. 

"Tomorrow as a team we would like to try to take the trophy back home, but I’m not too interested in what it means to me. I just want to celebrate the title with all the team and we will do our best in training as well.”