Lebanon regained the Sixth Asian Communities Football Tournament (ACFT) after defeating India in a penalty-shootout (4-3) after a 1-1 deadlock at the Al Arabi Stadium.
Lebanon, who first won the title in 2015, also received a cash prize of QR15,000, while India and Jordan received cash prizes of QR10,000 and QR5000 respectively. Top scorer of the tournament Hussein Mansour received QR5,000 and a trophy.
Mohamed al-Saghir was adjudged the best player, while Ali Krayem was declared the best goalkeeper of the tournament. The best coach award went to Ali Koteish.
The final match and the closing ceremony were attended by ambassador of Nepal Ramesh Prasad Koirala, ambassador of Malaysia Dato’ Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, ambassador of the Philippines Alan L Timbayan, ambassador of India P Kumaran and ambassador of Lebanon Hasan Najem.
The final was also attended by Qatar Football Association (QFA) Board Member Hani Ballan, Chairman of the Sub-Leagues Committee at QFA Hilal al-Mohannadi and Community Engagement Manager at the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy Khalid
Speaking on the occasion, Hilal al-Mohannadi said: “I would like to congratulate Lebanon on winning the title of this year’s Asian Communities Football Tournament, they deserved the win. We are very happy with the turnout of fans to the final as it demonstrates the football passion in Qatar. The ACFT demonstrates QFA’s objective which is to organise a tournament that acts as an effective tool to help support integration and positive community engagement amongst the various communities in Qatar through football.
“We thank our partners for their ongoing support which started in 2013, their support is valuable for the ACFT and it also provides a unique opportunity for community teams to take part in this significant tournament while allowing the teams to display their talents and love for football.”
Khalid al-Jumaily said: “I would like to congratulate Lebanon on winning first place tonight, and I would also like to congratulate India on earning second place in the tournament. India played really well throughout the match, however, Lebanon were determined to win this edition, and were keen on not repeating what happened in last year’s final, which was to lose against Jordan.
“We are happy to sponsor the ACFT once again as we consider it to be a tournament that successfully spreads the culture of football in Qatar, and also encourages the various communities to lead a healthy lifestyle through playing football. Lebanon and Jordan communities have a big passion for football and their teams possess incredible football skills.”
The sixth ACFT is sponsored by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy as the official strategic partner, Nike as the official supplier, and Al Kass Sports Channels as the official broadcaster. Organised by the QFA, the ACFT is a community tournament which brings together various Asian communities residing in Qatar to display their football passion on the field, and encourages them to play more football in a fun competitive environment.
The 12-team tournament was played from January 11 to March 30 at the Al Gharafa Stadium, the Al Markhiya Sports Club, the Doha Stadium and Al Arabi Stadium. Matches were played on Thursdays and Fridays to allow the community teams to take part in the fun-packed tournament during the weekend. Jordan, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Korea Republic, Singapore, Japan, Lebanon, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Nepal were the participating teams.
The tournament this year followed the traditional format of twelve teams being split into two groups of six where they played group stage matches, followed with the top four teams of each group qualifying for the knockout stage.
The ACFT was launched in sports season 2012-2013 and witnessed the participation of six teams in the first edition.
In its’ first edition, the tournament saw huge success and as a result, the following editions witnessed a big increase in the number of participating teams as more communities expressed huge interest in being part of the exciting community tournament.
Lebanon players celebrate after winning the Sixth Asian Communities Football Tournament at the Al Arabi Stadium. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed