The diplomatic dispute between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates so far goes now to the pitch. The two nations’ national teams beat big opponents on Friday for the closing matches of the Asian Cup quarter-finals and advanced to an unprecedented continental semifinal between the two.
The team of Qatar has beaten South Korea 1-0 and for the first time in history will fight for a place in the continental final. Then the hosts defeated Australia on the same score after a great failure by defender Trent Sainsbury who “passed” the ball to leave Ali Ahmed Mabkhout face-to-face with the goalkeeper to make the game.
Still, in the duel between house owners and current champions, a scene marked the final minutes – which yielded almost 10 minutes of additions. The captain of the United Arab Emirates, Fares Juma, shook his head and fell off. Even so, he still returned to the field not to leave his team with one less.
Earlier, Qatar, host of the next World Cup (and that will be in the Copa America), beat South Korea, one of the main forces of the continent, also by 1 to 0. Ali Ahmed Mabkhout made the game goal by hitting a beautiful kick from outside the area and led the country to the continental semifinal for the first time in history.
The other semifinal will be between Iran and Japan. Played since 1956, the Asian Cup is the second oldest regional tournament of national teams, behind only the Copa America. Japan is the biggest winner of the competition, with four titles, and Australia is the current champion.
Now, we will have to wait to see what will happen with this match between Qatar and the Arab Emirates, because Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain prohibited Qatar citizens to enter their countries. The four countries accuse neighboring Qatar of supporting terrorism, a charge that the Doha government denies.