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

2023-05-10 | Since 3 Week

Qatar Team

Doha, 10 May 2023 - 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.  

Qatar kicked off their campaign towards the 2019 trophy in the UAE with three victories - 2-0 over Lebanon, 6-0 over North Korea, and 2-0 over Saudi Arabia - to top Group E. Akram Afif's mates made an overwhelming 1-0 round-of-16 victory over Iraq before defeating South Korea 1-0 in the round-of-8. In the semi-final, Felix Sanchez men beat hosts UAE 4-0 before they defeated four-time holders Japan 3-1 the finale.

This was Japan's first-ever defeat in their all final match appearances in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011.

In this edition, Qatar won their all seven matches, scoring 19 goals and conceding only a single goal.

Top-scorer and best player in the tournament Al Moez Ali set a new record by scoring nine goals, breaking that of Irans Ali Daei who scored eight goals in 1996.

Former Villarreal and Al Sadd player, Akram Afif, won the best playmaker award with 10 assists, as he contributed to scoring 11 goals, making the most effective assists in a single edition.

Goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb won the best goalkeeper award after maintaining a clean sheet for six consecutive matches. Qatar were the best team to keep a clean sheet in one tournament after Iran in the 1976 edition.

This edition also saw Qatar defeating four former AFC Asian Cup champions - Saudi Arabia, Iraq, South Korea and Japan. It also raised the number of teams that won the Asian title to nine, with Japan atop the list with four titles.

For the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 draw, Hosts and defending champions Qatar are in Pot 1 along with the teams ranked from second to sixth in Asia in the latest FIFA Ranking namely, four-time winners Japan, three-time champions Iran, two-time winners South Korea, 2015 champions Australia and Saudi Arabia who will be aiming to secure their fourth AFC crown.

The AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 will last for 30 days, two days longer than the previous edition in the UAE, in a bid to enhance the enthusiastic fan experience in Asia, and bolster the status of the tournament.


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