Euphoria flowed through the venues of the screening of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup final and later spilled into the surrounding areas and streets as Qatar scripted history defeating the mighty Japan by 3-1 to clinch their maiden Asian Cup on Friday at Abu Dhabi.
As Qatar scored the third goal, the spectators erupted in joy as it almost sealed the fate of the match and started large scale celebrations. Many had thronged the venues with large national flags, drums and other music instruments and started celebrating by chanting, singing and dancing.
Another group of spectators celebrate the performance of Team Qatar
Thousands, predominantly expatriates, had gathered at different venues cheering, clapping, whistling and dancing as Qatar started dominating the game and scoring two goals in the first half itself. At Old Airport Area, Qatar Airways had made special arrangements for screening of the match and the venue was overflowing with people from late afternoon.
Every time, the Qatari players got possession of the ball, the crowds started cheering the team with great enthusiasm. A move into the Japanese half or a Japanese move blocked by Qatari defenders was loudly cheered and appreciated by the spectators. A loud sigh of disappointment could be heard when team Qatar lost a goal opportunity and every time Qatari players moved into the Japanese half, the crowds were also on their feet, cheering the team.
Celebrations at Katara. Video: Jayaram
During the half time break, as Qatar was leading 2-0, several of the spectators started celebrating stating that Japan can never come back in the match. A group of youngsters started chanting several slogans and dancing to the drumbeats, praising Qatar and the leadership of Qatar. They also entertained the whole group of spectators by encouraging everyone to take part in the celebrations and loudly cheer the team.
“This is the moment, we were waiting for. We have been cheering for our team for such long time. I have come with my friends from the Industrial Area to watch this match and cheer Qatar. Team Qatar has made our day and we are happy that Qatar is on top today,” said a member of the cheering team.
The crowning moment of the game came when Qatar got the third goal when Akram Hassan Afif scored a goal from a penalty kick after which there was a no looking back for Qatar.
“When Japan returned a goal, we were slightly disappointed. However, we were sure that Qatar would win and it was a few moments of scare when Japan scored a goal back and started pushing on. However, the third goal completely changed the whole game and there was no chance for Japan to come back,” said Dhanjay Kumar, a Nepalese national and an ardent football fan.
“It was a great win. Winning in Abu Dhabi and winning convincingly makes it a proud moment for Qatar. This is a fitting reply for many of the blockading countries too. The only disappointment was the lone goal against Qatar. Otherwise it would have been a clean slate for Qatar as they had not conceded a single goal till the finals,” said Syed Mirsa, a Pakistani national.
Besides the screening on large screens, food and beverages were also served at many venues. While the seats were filled to the capacity well ahead of the match, the overflowing crowd lustily cheered and watched the match on their feet till end of the match.