AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023: Hopeful Qatar Kick off Campaign to Defend Crown Under Portuguese Leadership

Qatar hope to make history once again while hosting the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 from Jan. 12 to Feb. 10, 2024, the 18th edition that marks the defending champions 11th continental appearance.Having hosted the tournament in 1988 and 2011, this will be …

Qatar hope to make history once again while hosting the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 from Jan. 12 to Feb. 10, 2024, the 18th edition that marks the defending champions 11th continental appearance.

Having hosted the tournament in 1988 and 2011, this will be the second time in 12 years for Doha and the third in its history to host the event that was initiated in 1956. It also comes a year after an impressive and historic hosting of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Qatar lifted their first-ever Asian Cup trophy in the UAE in early 2019, as the fourth Arab and Gulf team to claim the title after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. But the title-holders know that their campaign towards a second trophy will not be easy amid Asian teams high-level performance in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Saudi Arabia defeated World Cup winner Argentina in group stage, Japan outperformed Germany and Spain in their group before losing to Croatia in the round of 16, and South Korea qualified as runners-up of their group before being eliminated by Brazil in the knockouts.

Qatar enter the tournament under coach Carlos Queiroz, replacing Spaniard Felix Sanchez who is now leading Ecuador.

The Portuguese who led Iran in three consecutive World Cup editions (Brazil 2014, Russia 2018, and Qatar 2022) dreams of his first continental trophy. While leading Egypt, he was close to the Africa Cup of Nations title in 2021, but they lost the final to Senegal on 4-2 penalty shoot-out.

The 70-year-old knows that Qatar are one of the favorites to secure the title, given the home-field advantage and their pre-tournament preparations including featuring in the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup in the US. For the Gold Cup, Qatar were drawn in Group B along with Mexico, Honduras and Haiti. This tournament from June 24 to July 16 will give Queiroz an opportunity to test the Qatari teams readiness during strong matches against high-level teams.

Queiroz also seeks a better performance for the Qatari team to give a better image after their underwhelmed World Cup campaign that saw them being eliminated from the group stage.

In the Asian Cup qualifiers, Qatar topped their Group E that included Oman, India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh with 22 points seven wins, one draw and zero defeat. They scored 18 goals, while conceding only one goal. They defeated Afghanistan 6-0 and 1-0, Bangladesh 2-0 and 5-0, and Oman 2-1 and 1-0. They were held to a goalless tie by India at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium before making an away 1-0 victory.

Over their previous 10 appearances, Qatar played 39 matches, wining 13 matches, including seven in the 2019 edition. They scored 52 goals, the last of which was by Akram Afif against Japan. They advanced to the knock-outs on three occasions – 2000, 2011 (quarter-finals) and 2019 (champions).

In their first four appearances Kuwait 1980, Singapore 1984, Doha 1988 and Japan 1992, Qatar were eliminated from group stage. In Beirut 2000, they finished third in the group stage with three draws against Japan, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan, before losing to China 3-1 in the quarterfinals.

Qatar suffered an early elimination in the 2004 edition after they came last in Group A with two defeats and a single tie. In 2007 in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, they also finished last in Group B that saw them competing with Japan, Vietnam and UAE.

In Doha 2011, Qatar finished second in Group A that included Uzbekistan, China and Kuwait on six points from two victories and a loss. However, they suffered a 3-2 quarter-final loss to Japan.

In Australia 2015, they suffered three defeats under Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi against UAE, Bahrain and Iran to leave the tournament from the group stage.

Source: Qatar News Agency

QNB Stars League Week 22 (Final Round) Review

Curtains fell on the 2022-2023 season QNB Stars League with Week 22 (final round) action on May 8 and 9, 2023, as Al Duhail were crowned the champions for the eighth time in their history, Al Sailiya were relegated to the Second Division and Al Shamal …

Curtains fell on the 2022-2023 season QNB Stars League with Week 22 (final round) action on May 8 and 9, 2023, as Al Duhail were crowned the champions for the eighth time in their history, Al Sailiya were relegated to the Second Division and Al Shamal went into the Play-Off against Second Division runners-up Al Khor.

This round saw Al Rayyan defeating Al Gharafa 4-1 and Al Sadd losing to Al Arabi 1-2. Al Duhail beat Al Shamal 5-2, and Al Ahli defeated Al Markhiya 1-0, while Al Sailiya lost to Al Wakrah 0-1. Week 22 also saw Umm Salal and Qatar SC playing out a goalless draw.

Al Duhail were crowned the 2022-2023 season QNB Stars League champions for the eighth time in their history after their 5-2 victory against Al Shamal in the last round. The Red Knights topped the standings with 51 points to regain the title after a gap of two seasons. On the other hand, Al Shamal went into Play-Off with Al Khor after they were edged by Umm Salal on goal difference after both teams were tied on 18 points. Al Khor emerged as the Second Division runners-up with 28 points, behind Muaither SC, who got promoted to the QNB Stars League.

Al Duhail thus equaled Al Rayyan in second place in terms of most league titles, after Al Sadd (16 titles).

It was the third title for Al Duhail this season, Qatar Cup 2023 and Ooredoo Cup being their other triumphs.

Al Arabi finished second for the first time after a long time with 49 points after defeating Al Sadd 2-1 in the last round, and the latter settled for third place with 44 points.

Al Wakrah managed to finish fourth following their 1-0 victory over Al Sailiya to be on 39 points. Qatar SC, who played out a goalless draw with Umm Salal, claimed fifth place with 36 points and Al Gharafa, who lost 1-4 to Al Rayyan, ended up sixth with 32 points.

Al Markhiya and Al Ahli finished in the middle of the table. Al Markhiya came seventh despite losing 0-1 to Al Ahli (eighth) on better goal difference after both teams were tied on 24 points.

Al Rayyan ensured their survival in the top flight with a 4-1 victory over Al Gharafa to be on 20 points in ninth place. Umm Salal escaped relegation and Play-Off after playing out a 0-0 draw with Qatar SC and finished 10th with 18 points, on better goal difference than Al Shamal (11th).

Al Sailiya were relegated to the Second Division after losing 0-1 to Al Wakrah to finish on 16 points in 12th position.

Al Duhail striker Michael Olunga emerged as the top scorer with 22 goals after scoring four times in their win over Al Shamal. Al Arabi’s Omar Al Somah is the second best with 19 goals.

Al Wakrah’s Jacinto Dala came third with 15 goals, followed by Al Rayyan’s Yohan Boli and Al Arabi’s Yousef Msakni (both 13 goals).

Source: Qatar News Agency