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【Asian Cup UAE 2019 Final Preview】One more win for Japan to recapture the title, while Qatar seeks for their first ever title

31 January 2019

【Asian Cup UAE 2019 Final Preview】One more win for Japan to recapture the title, while Qatar seeks for their first ever title

The SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) is just one step away from capturing the Asian title. At the tournament final scheduled to kick-off at 23:00 (Japan time) on Friday 1 February, Japan will fight to earn their fifth overall title at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, while their opponent, Qatar National Team, will be seeking for their first ever Asian Cup title. The two sides have clashed eight times in the past, where they share a record of two wins, four draws, and two losses. In the most recent encounter, Japan has won the match 3-2 at the 2011 Asian Cup held at Qatar, where KAGAWA Shinji’s brace gave Japan the victory in come from behind fashion at the quarterfinals.

Similar to Japan, Qatar has won all six matches played at this year’s Asian Cup to advance to the final. The team is capable of showcasing different styles according to their opponents, as they have shown during this tournament both of their abilities to be the aggressor by holding high ball possession, and to play passive by forming a block in front of their goal to seek for opportunities to counter attack.

Qatar’s 22-year old forward Almoez ALI presents great danger for Japan, as the young striker has registered a tournament leading eight goals at this Cup. Ali was the lead scorer at last year’s AFC U-23 Championship, where Qatar finished third in the tournament. He has also showcased his ability to create chances in a deeper role for his club side, Al-Duhail SC (Qatar) at the AFC Champions League. Their other forwards, Hassan AL-HAYDOS and Akram Hassan AFIF also consists great techniques, as they are well capable of creating threats to their opponents. In defence, they also have talents such as Abdelkarim HASSAN, who was named as the AFC Most Valuable Player last year.

In their past appearances at the AFC Asian Cup, Qatar has never made it passed the quarterfinals. However, with their nation being the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, they have entered this tournament with a strong intention to win this tournament. Despite losing out in last place of Group A at the final qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup Russia, Qatar will definitely be a force to be reckoned with at the next World Cup.

With 2022 in their site, Qatar has devoted their efforts into youth development over the years. Their national sports development organisations, such as the Aspire Academy, has been sponsored by the nation, and welcomed over many instructors from abroad. Their recent success at the AFC U-23 Championship has been a good example, while they have also managed to win the AFC U-19 Championship in 2014 and make an appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015. The Spaniard, Felix SANCHEZ BAS, who has formerly coached at the FC Barcelona (Spain) youth system, is the commander who led the nation to the listed success, as he currently takes the helm for the nation’s top team. The current squad of the Qatar National Team consists many young players who has been coached by Sanchez Bas, such as Ali, Afif, and Assim Omer MADIBO.

With momentum on their side, Qatar has managed to win six consecutive clean sheet victories at this tournament. However, Japan has defeated an Iranian side who has also carried a streak of five game shutouts. With OSAKO Yuya (Werder Bremen) as their lone striker, midfielders HARAGUCHI Genki (Hannover 96), MINAMINO Takumi (FC Red Bull Salzburg), and DOAN Ritsu (FC Groningen) has shown a polished quality in their combinations to capture three goals against Iran, and their attacks will certainly find ways to crack open the Qatar defence.

The two players who sustained injuries at the semi-finals, ENDO Wataru (Sint-Truidense V.V.) and SAKAI Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille), may affect how the team will play out their defence, but with the Japanese side fighting through the tournament with a total team effort, every player is prepared to step up to the occasion. Defender MUROYA Sei (F.C. Tokyo), who entered the match against Iran to replace Sakai, shared his aspiration ahead of the final, “We are fully prepared for the final. I will do anything to help the team win the match.” As Coach MORIYASU Hajime has mentioned, “The team needs to fulfil their responsibilities while striving to reach higher standards. I want my players to face the reality when they play on the pitch,” if the team can execute their game plan, positive results shall follow.

Schedule

SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) Squad, Schedule

AFC ASIAN CUP UAE 2019

Tournament Dates: Sat. 5 January - Fri. 1 February 2019

Knockout Stage Final:
Fri. 1 February Kick-off 23:00 (Japan Time)
vs Qatar National Team

Broadcasting: Televised Live at TV Asahi Group
BS Broadcasting: Televised Live at NHKBS1

Tournament Information

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