Friday February 1, 2019
Qatar topped-off their 2019 AFC Asian Cup in style, by beating four-time Champions Japan, 3-1. Almoez Ali, Abdelaziz Hatim, and Akram Afif found their names on the scoresheet, helping the Maroons lift the title. In what was a particularly impressive campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts, we narrow down some key records.
One of the biggest talking points of this competition was the form of young striker Almoez Ali. The 22-year-old had started his competition on a great note, scoring five goals in just two matches. Another brace in the third match followed, leaving him with seven goals going into the knockout stages.
With potentially four more games remaining, fans started wondering whether Ali would eventually break Ali Daei’s long-standing record of goals in a single edition. The Iranian forward had netted eight times during the 1996 edition.
After two matches without a goal, Ali finally popped up in the Semifinals to take his tally to eight, level with Ali Daei. One match later, he was past him.
Nine goals in a single AFC Asian Cup campaign; that’s the new record to beat!
Almoez Ali’s 2019 AFC Asian Cup campaign was special for many reasons. The 22-year-old striker formally announced himself on the international stage, while also breaking Ali Daei’s record.
However, many might easily forget that 2019 was indeed Ali’s debut in the Asian Cup!
The young striker has been tearing it apart recently at both the club and the international level. However, when the last edition of the pan-Asian competition took place, Ali was still fighting his way among the youth teams.
Four years later, he’s a key member of the Qatar squad as well as an AFC Asian Cup MVP.
It didn’t take long for Qatar to get their tournament going. Unlike many of the other teams, who struggled against ‘weaker’ opposition, the Maroons sailed through the opening stages.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts scored ten unanswered goals during their first three matches, with star striker Almoez Ali scoring seven of those.
Three more wins followed in the knockout stages; the first two being a narrow 1-0 wins over Iraq and South Korea, while the semifinal a 4-0 thrashing of hosts UAE.
Three more goals came in the final, bringing Qatar’s total tally to nineteen! And while they are still behind Japan in goals scored in a single edition (2000), they were the highest scoring team of the 2019 edition.
Qatar were quite simply, the best offensive and defensive side of the AFC Asian Cup. The Maroons went through seven games by scoring nineteen goals. Furthermore, they only conceded once during those seven matches!
Japan forward Takumi Minamino capitalized on a defensive mix-up midway through the second half, and chipped the ball calmly over an onrushing Saad Al Sheeb, quashing any hope of a remarkable record.
Nevertheless, the Qatar custodian still managed to bag the award for the tournament’s best goalkeeper for all his efforts of keeping the goal clean.
While much of the attention was on star-striker Almoez Ali, winger Akram Afif was quietly running the show. The Al Sadd man slotted in behind Ali as the second striker and managed to assist him on five separate occasions.
Afif added five more assists to his tally, bringing his total to ten; six better than Chris Ikonomidis in the second place.
And while it is still unconfirmed as to whether it is a competition record, Afif’s ten assists still make him this edition’s best provider.