25 Jul 2021
Phoenix, Arizona. Qatar reached CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal on their first appearance at the continental championship, courtesy of some fine football that included two goals from Aspire Academy graduate, Almoez Ali. Qatar beat El Salvador 3-2 in a thrilling and dramatic quarter final match played on Saturday 24 July at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Qatar opened the scoring from a telepathic combination first seen at the Aspire Academy pitches years ago and has burgeoned on the international scene delighting world football fans. Barely 2 minutes into the match El Salvador defence buckled under pressure forcing a blunder and Aspire graduate Akram Afifi made the most of the situation, crafting a delightful through ball to Almoez Ali for the opening goal of the match.
The reigning AFC Asian champions, Qatar buoyed by the goal went on to play some fine football and creating chances and one of them, they added a second goal in the 8th minutes when outstanding right back Pedro Miguel found enterprising midfielder Abdelaziz Hatim, whose quick threw off the defenders, creating space from which he let go a thunderbolt that sailed past the El Salvador goalkeeper.
Qatar scored their third goal, a converted penalty in the 55th minute that gave Almoez his brace and The Maroons had a healthy lead, but El Salvador did not lie down defeated. They pulled one back through striker Joaquin Rivas after 63 minutes. Three minutes later Rivas squeezed in his and El Salvador’s second and Qatar had to up the ante. The thrilling match grew into an even more thrilling contest with both teams almost snatching the all-important next goal in the last 30 minutes of the match. It swung back and forth and after ooughs and aaahs there were no further goals and the thriller in Arizona ended with Qatar reaching the semis- finals on their debut at the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup
Qatar will play either USA or Jamaica in the semi-finals on Friday 30th July 2021. the win brings them closer to their ultimate objective of winning the Gold Cup. While it was a nervy final half-hour for the reigning Asian champions, maintaining their defensive shape helped Qatar
Aspire Academy graduate, Homam El Amin was part of the Qatar defence that held well to ensure the victory. An elated Hammam spoke after the match saying, “It’s great to be in the semifinal. We have one more step to go to get to the final, but it’s a pleasure that we are playing this tournament. We’re putting forth a good effort in this competition. We have one more step, we are wishing to take the cup because it would be very exciting for us and our nation of Qatar. It was an intense match. There was pressure when they scored the two goals, but we tried to be compact, we tried to close and defend well. We took the game and we won, and now we have one more step,” concluded Aspire graduate Homam El Amin