Qatar upset Japan 3-1 to claim first Asian Cup title

Bora Milutinovic

Gettyimages

The UAE, which lost to Qatar 4-0 in a politically-charged semifinal on Tuesday, questioned if two members of the Qatari team - 22-year-old Almoez Ali, a Sudan-born striker, and 21-year-old Bassam al-Rawi, a defender who is the son of a former Iraq global - meet FIFA's nationality requirements.

The governing Asian Football Confederation confirmed that a protest had been received from the UAE FA regarding two players and that it would be "reviewed in line with the AFC Regulations".

The 69-year-old tactician became jobless after stepping down from his coaching job at the Emirates Stadium last summer after his 22 year reign at the club.

Qatar prevailed 4-0 in a highly charged encounter with hosts United Arab Emirates, with the ill-feeling between the two Gulf states manifesting as supporters threw shoes at Qatari players celebrating goals.

"When we arrived to play in the AFC Asian Cup, our target was to test ourselves against everyone, to be able to compete against all the teams here, and to be able to hold our own against the very best in Asia", Sanchez said yesterday.

"This is most important game in Qatar's football history", he said, ahead of the final against Japan on Friday. Qatar, who have never previously qualified for the tournament, may be the next to do so. Qatar team spokesman Ali Salat did not reply to messages about the eligibility questions over players.

The Asian Cup was lifted by Qatar for the first time on Friday after a series of victories on the field just as improbable as winning the vote in 2010 that secured the Federation Internationale de Football Association showpiece for the small, super-rich Gulf nation.

Their Spanish coach Feliz Sanchez insisted there was no issue. "It will mean that a lot of things have been done in the right way. We have been developing as a team throughout each game and I want us to show that development on the field tomorrow", he added. "We were able to win today because we took all the chances".

Victory would perhaps be all the sweeter for the Qataris coming in one of the nations that have severed all ties with them over accusations they support extremist groups.

The build-up to the match had been dominated by issues surrounding the eligibility of Ali and Qatar defender Bassam Al Rawi. Qatar had to take a circuitous route via Kuwait lasting more than five hours to make an air journey that can be done directly in around an hour.

Still a Long Way to Go in Addressing Mental Health Needs: Advocate
Panthers star Peppers retires after 17 NFL seasons