AFC Asian Cup 2019: 5 talking points as Qatar stun Korea Republic 1-0 to reach the semifinals

Asian Cup Korea Republic Qatar

Abdulaziz Hatem scored a 78th minute winner as Felix Sanchez’s young Qatar stunned heavyweights Korea Republic to enter the semifinals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

It looked like a goal was on the offing for South Korea for most of the game, but it was the Qataris who found it when Abdulaziz scored towards the latter stages of the second half to send his nation to their first-ever semifinal appearance in the continental championship.

Here are five major talking points from one of the results of the tournament!

1) Korea Republic attack without end product

Highlights – Korea Republic vs Qatar

With an impressive front line of Hwang Ui-jo, Lee Chung-yong and, not to forget, Son Heung-min, Korea Republic were expected to give a tough time for Qatar’s young defence. Korea saw plenty of possession — over 60 per cent of it. But they failed to make it count. The Taegeuk Warriors did create a few half-chances in the first 45 minutes, however they failed to test Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb in any way. Though attempting five shots, the South Koreans had zero effort n goal while Qatar who were on the defensive throughout had one effort on goal from three efforts as the teams headed for the dressing rooms at half-time.

2) Qatar put in an impressive defensive shift

While Korea were enjoying all the possession, the Qataris were happy to take the back seat and defend their post. While many expected them to have a field day out with the absence of screening midfielder Assim Madibo and left-back Abdelkarim Hassan after accumulating two yellow cards, the Qatari defence looked at ease against the Koreans. 28-year-old Boualem Khoukhi, who partnered two 21-year-olds Bassam Al-Rawi and Tarek Salman in a new three-man defence, was impeccable in defence and brought calm to the backline. Despite all their initiative, Paulo Bento’s men had barely allowed a clear look at the goal by the Qatari defenders. It was indeed turning out to be a tactical masterclass from Felix Sanchez.

3) South Koreans stunned by Abdulaziz goal! 

AFC Asian Cup 2019: Korea Republic 0-1 Qatar – Abdulaziz Hatem (78′)

It looked like a Korean goal was going to come anytime as the match progressed. And they almost took the lead in the 77th minute when Kim Jin-su struck the outside of the post with a free kick from the edge of the box. However, South Korea, who were probing for a goal, were stunned when Qatar found the back of the net the very next minute. Abdulaziz Hatem, who already knew he would miss the semifinal if he made it after receiving a yellow card in the 37th minute, decided to make himself the hero of the night. Receiving a ball some distance away from the goal, the Al-Gharafa midfielder struck a low drive which curled away from goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu into the goal — only the second of his international career!

4) Qatar switch off and almost gets punished! 

It looked like Qatar’s celebrations will be short-lived when Korea had the ball in the back of the net straight from kickoff. Lee Yong made some space on the right wing to play in a cross that that was guided home by Hwang In-beom in the 80th minute only for the strike to be ruled out for offside by the assistant referee. South Korea tried in earnest to get back into the game, but the Qatar players were not relenting. They gave everything to keep the ball in the opposition’s half and were relieved when the referee blew the whistle for full time!

5) Promising signs for the Maroons

Qatar are the youngest team surviving in the competition now with an average age of 24.87 years with some of their biggest stars — Almoez Ali, Akram Afif, Al-Rawi and Salman — eligible for the U-23 side. However, they looked confident and were up to task against a Korean team that sent defending world champions Germany packing from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia last summer and also won the 2018 Asian Games. Not many expected the young Qatar side to come this far in the competition, but they will have nothing to lose when they face the winners of the United Arab Emirates vs Australia in the semifinals on Tuesday. The team that is being built with the 2022 FIFA World Cup in mind are already working wonders under Spanish coach Sanchez!