Doha, Qatar, 21/01/11
In 11 years Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup, but they will have the chance of winning a different world title this Friday – the Unofficial Football World Championships – as they take on the Japanese in an Asian Cup Quarter-Final.
The awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a controversial decision, but the success thus far of the Asian Cup has put some doubts to rest. And Qatar have proved that they have a decent team. After losing their opening game 2-0 to Uzbekistan, it looked like they could be the whipping boys in their own back-yard. However they raised their performance in their next game, defeating China 2-0. A 3-0 win against Kuwait in their final group game was enough to secure second-place in Group A to advance to the next round for only the second time in their history. Interestingly, in that tournament in 2000 they were eliminated by China (who they’ve already beaten this time around), and the Final saw Japan defeat Saudi Arabia (just like the previous title match).
If Qatar are to be victorious in their first-ever UFWC title match, they will need a better performance from their star striker Sebastian Soria, whom so far has failed to hit the target in the Asian Cup this year. However, The Annabi (that’s The Maroon, for those of us who don’t speak Arabic) are not short of attacking prowess; their five goals so far this tournament have been scored by four different players.
But Japan will not give up their title lightly. They showed in their 5-0 mauling of Saudi Arabia that they may well be at their best, which doesn’t bode well for any opposition, especially given that they were missing several key players for that match. The Japanese seem to be on a roll, and are on the quest to unify the UFWC and Asian Cup for the first time in the final (as mentioned before it was also possible to happen in the Semi-Finals, but Iran’s dominance in Group D means this is no longer possible). Of course, we are now guaranteed a unification at the end of the tournament. The question is, who will achieve this historic feat? This match could go a long way in deciding that outcome.
The match kicks-off at 4.25pm local time (1.25pm British time) and you can watch it free online here.
The winner of this match will face the winner of Iran vs South Korea in the Semi-Finals on January 25th, which will bring the UFWC one step closer to the Final.
Stay tuned here for the coverage of this very important match, and make your predictions for the outcome below.