Asian Cup Final time

Photo from TV Asahi Go
It is Friday the 1st of February so that can only mean one thing, it's Asian Cup Final day. After 24 teams have played a total of 86 matches we are down to the final two. While many of us expected Japan to be there few would have guessed their opponents would be the 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar. 

Japan is Favourites 

It can't be argued that Qatar has done very well to get to the final, they defeated a Korean team full of quality in the Semi-Final after all. Despite this, a brave man would bet against Japan becoming champions of Asia for a record five times. This is seen with odds also with Bet365 having Japan 8/15 on to lift the trophy. This is compared to Qatar sitting at 11/8 to be the ones lifting the trophy.

I expect the bookies have got this right although odds of 15/4 on the match being level at the half time mark with Japan then winning in 90 minutes sounds like a good bet to me. This is down to in the six matches they have won at this years Asian Cup three were level at halftime including the semifinal triumph over Iran.

Qatar's threat

As you would expect with Qatar the competition hasn't been without its controversy with the team and its players. This was seen with the UAE suggesting that they had broken FIFA rules by selecting Almoez Ali, a 22-year-old striker born in Sudan, and Bassam Al Rawi, a 21-year-old defender born in Baghdad. 

The full story behind this, however, will be revealed at a later date and whatever happens, Qatar will play at the Asian Cup final. Then now let's look at the countries key players and see who could cause a threat to Japan. 

First things first this team should be taken seriously after all they have won all six matches so far at the Asian Cup scoring sixteen goals and conceding zero. In the run to the final, they beat North Korea 6-0 and beat World Cup 2018 participants Saudi Arabia and South Korea 2-0 and 1-0 respectively. 

The first player to pick out would have to be the striker Almoez Ali the player mentioned earlier. The forward has been impressive for his country and as picked up eight goals at the Asian Cup so far. This makes him the Asian Cup top scorer while this goals tally equals the tournament's record.

The 22-year-old who will have a Japanese player in Shoya Nakajima as a teammate soon at his club side Al Duhail as shown impressive form. This was seen with him picking up four goals against North Korea while scoring in another three matches. If the player with quick feet who can score goals from all distances can do this against Japan we will have to wait and see. 

There are other players who should also get a mention, such as goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb who as kept six clean sheets. Tarek Salman also deserves a mention with the centre back playing all 540 minutes his countries has played while keeping six clean sheets. 

Japan to march on 

I expect that Hajime Moriyasu and his Japan team will not take this Qatar team lightly and will get the job done. The man to look out for first off all if those Qatarian want to keep that impressive defensive record will be Ōsako with the forward-looking on top form. 

The player has been helped by his teammates all around him performing to the best of their ability. This is especially true for the 20-year-old midfielder Doan whos impressed all tournament with displays beyond his years. 

It has most certainly been the competition for the new generation with star players from the World Cup such as Keisuke Honda,  Shinji Kagawa and Makoto Hasebe not part of this sides set up. This looks now than like a team of the future and a new era could start with an Asian Cup final triumph over Qatar. The majority of this squad will then be looking to gel together before having a good go on the opponents' turf at their 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

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