30 Jul 2021
Austin, USA. Reigning AFC Asian champions, Qatar put on a spirited effort but narrowly lost out (1-0) in the semi-final of 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup to hosts United States on Friday 30 July 2021 at Q2 stadium in Austin. Aspire Academy graduates made a significant number of players in the Qatar national team which was applauded for a very good tournament during which they reached the semi-finals.
Qatar were sharp out of the blocks and dominated early play before a sold-out crowd of 20 500 who appreciated a lively and competitive matched. The Maroons actually shaded the chances in the first 20 minutes and peppered the USA goal and twice goalkeeper Matt Turner rescued USA after efforts from Aspire graduate Almoez Ali and midfielder Abdelaziz Hatmi.At the opposite end another Aspire graduate and Qatar goalkeeper, Meshaal Barshim kept out USA strikers to keep the score line bare going into the break.
After the break the two sides continued with an entertaining brand of football, awash with chances. Aspire graduate Akram Afifi whose runs and passing was proving to be a thorn in the USA sides, was fouled in box to earn Qatar a spot kick. But there was to be a rare penalty miss for Qatar by usually dependable captain, Hassan Al-Haydos in the 62nd minute as he skied his chipped shot over the bar Qatar went close to opening the scoring.
The game looked to be heading into extra time when in the 86th minute USA broke the deadline with a side footed effort from Gyazi Zardes after a cross from a Nicholas Gioacchini and the hosts hung on to reach the final.
Speaking after the match, Qatar national team coach, Felix Sanchez was full of praise for his charges on how they had performed during 2021 Gold Cup.”, We have had a great tournament and good experience for us where we played very competitive matches throughout the tournament. In my opinion we created the best chances in the first half and played well. We carried that into the second half but after we missed the penalty, we changed a little. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our day to day due to a few small details, but overall l thought we played well, and we leave this tournament with better knowledge and experience which will benefit us for World Cup 2022 next year”, concluded head coach Sanchez.
Qatar was invited to play in the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football tournament to help with their preparations for hosting the world next year. The US, the six-time champions, will now face Mexico in the final after they came through their semi-final clash with Canada, 2-1 at NRG Stadium in Houston. The final will take place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday (August 1).