President Erdoğan congratulates Qatar on Asian Cup win

Elena Summers
February 3, 2019

Maya Yoshida, the captain of Japan has said that they do not have the time to feel sorry for themselves after they had suffered a painful defeat in the finals of the Asian Cup.

"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 vehicle windows and honking their horns in celebration.

"We're not expecting to win, but just to learn because after the World Cup, the Copa America is the biggest competition in the world", Ali said.

To the delight of Sanchez, former Barcelona midfielder Xavier Hernández Creus (Xavi) correctly predicted that the 2022 World Cup hosts would win the 2019 Asian Cup.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan congratulated Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani for winning the Asian Cup after beating four-time champion Japan on Friday.

In an interview, Sanchez shared: "In the first half, we played very well".

Though Japan halved the deficit midway through the second half, the 2022 World Cup hosts sealed the victory seven minutes from time after Akram Afif converted a penalty.

"In claiming their maiden crown, Qatar have set the benchmark for all Asian teams and I am sure their success will serve as an inspiration for everyone to scale even greater heights", he added.

Ali, who graduated from Qatar's Aspire Academy, said the next step he wanted to take in his career was a move to a European club.

According to media reports, the players in question are striker Almoez Ali, who is a 22-year old of Sudanese descent and has scored a record-equalling eight goals at the tournament, and 21-year old defender Bassam Al-Rawi, who was born in Iraq.

Afif clocked up a tournament-record 10 assists and formed a devastating partnership with Ali, underlining Qatar's cohesion in both defence and attack after years spent playing together.

But then it will be back to work.

The two wingers Abdelkarim Hassan and Pedro Correia also played their part with the latter hard to get past on the right side. "We get along very well together too".

The defeat was the first for Japan since being knocked out of last summer's World Cup round of 16 in a 3-2 loss to Belgium.

Japan had won all four of their previous appearances in the final of the continental tournament, but they were unable to come from behind against Qatar, who went into the match as underdogs.

The Spaniard has known and worked with the majority of the squad for several years, many of them of since they were children. Qatar are in the same group as Lionel Messi's Argentina for the June-July tournament in Brazil.

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