Hosts Qatar Make Second Consecutive AFC Asian Cup Final

Hosts Qatar kept their dream of winning a second consecutive AFC Asian Cup alive with a 3-2 win over Iran in their semi final on Wednesday. The dramatic win came in the dying minutes of regulation when Almoez Ali struck what would become the game-winner.

The win can finally take the sour taste left in the mouth of the hosts after the 2022 World Cup where Qatar lost all three of their group stage games. Not only did they exit in the first round but it was the worst record of any host in the competition’s history.

Fortunately Qatar fans have much to cheer about as the team is in prime position to win back-to-back Asian Cups. Qatar won all three of their group stage games and then beat Palestine in the round of 16 rather easily. They then got a stiff test from the Uzbekistan team, managing to just eke out a win 3-2 in penalties.

Sardar Azmoun opened up the scoring in the match early, giving the visiting team the lead in just the 4th minute. The lead didn’t last very long however as Jassem Gaber’s shot from range took a deflection and popped over goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand into the net. 

The game was tied 1-1 just before the half but that’s when Akram Afif put the hosts one up. In the 41st minute he snuck into the box and uncorked a scorching strike to put his team ahead.

The Iran team didn’t give up, they kept fighting which paid dividends a few minutes into the second half.  Alireza Jahanbakhsh put away the spot kick to make it 2-2 after there was a penalty on Qatar for a handball.

The game continued on at a frenetic pace as both teams had multiple chances to score. Qatar managed to get off a whopping 23 shots on goal, while Iran also had 15. The time of possession was relatively close, as Qatar dominated 59% of the time and Iran controlled the ball for 41%.

In the end the difference in the game was the match winning goal by Almoez Ali. The game came after Shojae Khalilzadeh was sent off late in the game with a red card. Ali fired into the bottom corner from within the box, finishing the hopes of Iran and bringing 40,000 fans to their feet.

AFC Asian Cup 2023 Final: Qatar Vs Jordan

The 2023 Asian Cup comes to an end on Saturday, with a match between the hosts and underdogs, Jordan. The match is scheduled for a 3pm GMT kick-off time on Saturday 10 February at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail.

FIFA 87th ranked Jordan were able to beat two-time Asian champs and world’s 23rd ranked Korea 2-0 in the semifinals. The upset sent a shockwave through the tournament and put Jordan into their very first Asian Cup final. 

Defending champions Qatar on the other hand came in as one of the pre-tournament favourites, playing on home soil. The 58th ranked team were able to hold off three time champs and 21st ranked Iran 3-2 to book a spot in the final.

Qatar Vs. Jordan - AFC Asian Cup
IMAGO / Aksonline

The head-to-head between the two teams is in favor of Qatar who has 12 wins against their neighbors. Jordan on the other hand have 6 wins and five of their matches have ended in a draw.

Jordan has played five times at the Asian Cup with their previous best performance reaching the quarterfinals in both 2004 and 2011. Many observers have pointed out that the leadership and tactics of Moroccan coach Hussein Amouta have been key to the team’s success this year. 

While Qatar will go into the match as clear favourites, Jordan has proven that it can beat any Asian team on its day. The main matchup will likely be the Qatar offense against the Jordan defense. Qatar have been the highest scoring team in the tournament thus far, while Jordan have been very stingy on the defensive end.

If Jordan wants to win their first ever Asian Cup title, they will need to continue to play the defensive football that has gotten them so far. Expect a close game that will come down to a few key moments or even a penalty shootout.