ASPIRE GRDUATE ALMOEZ SCORES QATAR’S FIRST COPA-GOAL IN DRAW
16 Jun 2019, General
Rio de Janeiro, 16 June 2019. The Qatar Football Team fought their way back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Paraguay in their first ever Copa America game on Sunday, proving they kept their good shape after the 2019 Asian Cup triumph by pulling off a thrilling revival in the Maracana stadium.
The 2022 World Cup hosts are one of two guest teams at the South American championship along with Japan. The starting line-up in their debut Copa America match featured seven Aspire Academy graduates: Goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb, defenders Tarek Salman, Bassam Al-Rawi, and Abdelkarim Hassan, midfielder Assim Madibo, as well as strikers Akram Afif and Almoez Ali.
Paraguay looked confident after taking a fourth-minute lead thanks to Oscar Cardozo's penalty, with Derlis Gonzalez scoring an unstoppable second after 56 minutes. But invited guests Qatar showed character to fight back, worked out a number of good opportunities before 2019 Asian Cup-MVP and top scorer Almoez Ali got them back in the game with a fantastic curler from outside the box in the 68th minute.
And when Khoukhi's shot squeezed through Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez nine minutes later, the backtracking Rojas could only nod the ball in before getting tangled in the net and seemingly damaging his shoulder. Qatar had chances to score a third goal after counter attacks, but nevertheless, the 2-2 against the no. 36 on the FIFA ranking gave them a good start to their first appearance at Copa America tournament.
On Thursday, June 20, Qatar faces Colombia at 12:30am, before taking on Argentina in their final game of the group stage on Sunday, June 23 at 10pm.