Qatar and Jordan look to prove critics wrong in monumental all-Arab Asian Cup final

After 50 intense matches two of the smallest countries in the tournament meet in Saturday's showpiece match at the historic 88,900 seater Lusail Stadium

By Reuters

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Qatar skipper Hassan Al-Haydos and Jordan's Musa Al-Taamari are all set for a battle royale. - Instagram
Qatar skipper Hassan Al-Haydos and Jordan's Musa Al-Taamari are all set for a battle royale. - Instagram

Published: Fri 9 Feb 2024, 6:58 PM

Qatar and Jordan will play an all-Arab Asian Cup final on Saturday where both teams are highly motivated to answer critics who gave them no chance of going so far.

The match will be hosted at the 88,000-capacity Lusail Stadium, which hosted the Fifa World Cup 2022 final.

Surprise package Jordan finished third in their group and scraped through to the knockouts, where they suddenly elevated their game to knock out heavyweights Iraq and South Korea.

That was a triumph for their Moroccan coach Hussein Ammouta, who was heavily criticised when they finished 2023 without a win in seven games, which included six losses.

Hosts Qatar are fired up to chase a second Asian Cup title after 2019. - Instagram
Hosts Qatar are fired up to chase a second Asian Cup title after 2019. - Instagram

"I'm very satisfied with our achievement because it was a personal challenge," Ammouta told reporters ahead of Saturday's final at Lusail Stadium.

"When a team loses the coach is blamed and when they win they say it's because of team morale. We prepare with all aspects in mind - physical, mental, tactical and psychological.

"I hope we'll be ready when the first whistle blows and we'll respond to the critics, 99% of the time I don't listen to them since I don't find anything useful."

While Jordan will play with nothing to lose in their first final, hosts Qatar are the defending champions after winning their maiden title in 2019.

Midfielders Noor Al-Rawabdeh (No. 8) and Musa Al-Taamari (No. 10) celebrate after Jordan reached the Asian Cup final. - Instagram
Midfielders Noor Al-Rawabdeh (No. 8) and Musa Al-Taamari (No. 10) celebrate after Jordan reached the Asian Cup final. - Instagram

Qatar disappointed fans when they lost all their World Cup group games in 2022, but they turned things around in the Asian Cup, scoring in every game en route to the final, including a thrilling 3-2 semi-final win over higher-ranked Iran.

"I'm very proud to be a part of this squad ... A month before the tournament no one expected us to reach the final, no one thought we could deliver these performances," Qatar skipper Hassan Al-Haydos said.

"Working together with the coach, technical staff and the Qatar Football Association, we were able to reach this level because of the squad's unity."

The two coaches warmly embraced in front of the gleaming silver trophy that weighs 15 kg. But Qatar coach Marquez Lopez, who took charge in December, said all brotherly love between the two Arab nations would be forgotten at kickoff.

"It's a match between two brotherly countries but there should be competition between brothers, each of us would like to win. We know the ties between both countries are very strong but at the end we will compete hard in this game," Lopez said.

"We've had obstacles before this, it wasn't an easy journey. However, we are here now but we haven't achieved it yet.

"In Spain, there's a saying. Second place is first among losers. We're not satisfied with second, we will play for the trophy. We want to be the best in the continent."

At A Glance

What: Asian Cup final

When: Saturday, Feb. 10

Time: 7:00  PM (UAE)

Venue: Lusail Stadium -- Lusail, Qatar

Tournament details

Dates: 12 January – 10 February 2024

Teams: 24 (from 1 confederation)

Venue(s: 9 (in 5 host cities)


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