Abu Dhabi, Feb 2 (AP/UNB) — Long scorned for a lack of soccer pedigree, Qatar will enter the 2022 World Cup as the champion of Asia.
The Asian Cup was lifted by Qatar for the first time on Friday after a series of victories on the field just as improbable as winning the vote in 2010 that secured the FIFA showpiece for the small, super-rich Gulf nation.
While Japan entered the Asian Cup hotly tipped to win a fifth title, the Qataris hadn't even reached the semifinals before. But confounding the disparity in the FIFA rankings — with Qatar at 93 and Japan at 50 — the Gulf nation won the final 3-1 to claim its first major soccer title.
The strong attacking display was a reflection of Qatar's remarkable run over the last month in the United Arab Emirates, scoring 19 goals and conceding only once in winning all seven games.
"Qatar today is a top Asian team," goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb said. "We wrote history."
After upsetting the final favorite, players wrapped themselves in Qatari flags in a display of patriotic furor that will have resonated far beyond the stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Since joining other Arab countries in cutting diplomatic, economic and travel ties with Doha in 2017, the UAE warned residents that expressing sympathy for Qatar could lead to fines and imprisonment. The UAE is among a quartet of nations accusing its regional foe of supporting extremists, which Qatar denies, and even prevented the team from traveling direct to Abu Dhabi for the tournament.
There was even an attempt by the UAE to get Qatar disqualified after losing their semifinal. Tournament organizers confirmed only hours before the final they dismissed a challenge by the UAE against the eligibility of two Qatar players who were born outside Qatar.
One of them, Almoez Ali, scored the opening goal against Japan in the 12th minute with an audacious overhead kick. That gave him an all-time tournament record nine goals, surpassing Ali Daei's previous record tally of eight with Iran in 1996.
Abdulaziz Hatem doubled Qatar's lead with a curling strike in the 27th.
While Qatar conceded its first goal of the tournament in its seventh game when Takumi Minamino netted in the 69th, Akram Afif restored the two-goal cushion in the 83rd from the penalty spot.
"It's a huge disappointment," Japan captain Maya Yoshida said. "But we have to learn from this defeat."
Victory will give Qatar renewed hope of being able to compete against the globe's best teams when it qualifies for the first time for the World Cup — as hosts — in 2022.
"This result doesn't come from nothing," said defender Bassam Al-Rawi, the other player whose eligibility was questioned by the UAE. "It came with lot of effort. It came from determination. It came from immense hard work on the pitch. We were able to win today because we took all the chances."
There is an even stronger test for the squad in June when Qatar joins Japan as guest nations at the Copa America. Qatar is in a group with Argentina, Colombia, and Paraguay.
"This is one step more to continue developing the team to play another tournament in the summer and to be ready for 2022, to represent Qatar as a very competitive team at the World Cup," Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said.
Dhaka, Feb 1 (UNB) — After posting a challenging total of 165 for five, Sylhet Sixers bundled Chittagong Vikings for 136 for all in 18.3 overs and finished the sixth season of Bangladesh Premier with its fifth win by 29 runs.
Vikings suffered a big blow while chasing the target after losing both of their openers in three runs.
Mohammad Ashraful, the former captain of Bangladesh, failed to exploit his comeback to the playing XI. He played two balls but disappointed to add anything to the board. Right after Ashraful’s dismissal by Taskin Ahmed, Cameron Delport fell for two off three balls.
Vikings captain Mushfiqur Rahim struck 48 off 32 balls with three fours and as many as sixes but his effort was not enough to avoid an embarrassing loss to the Sixers, while Vikings already qualified to the playoffs of the tournament and Sixers have eliminated.
Besides Mushfiqur, Yasir Ali (27) and Mosaddek Hossain (25) showed some batting prowess but failed to manage an expected result.
Ebadat Hossain clinched his best bowling in T20s by taking four wickets for 17 runs for the Sixers. Along with him, Wayne Parnell bagged two wickets for them as well.
Earlier, with Andre Fletchers 66 off 53, Sylhet Sixers posted 165 in 20 overs in their last match of the ongoing season of BPL.
Vikings have won the toss and decided to bowl first in the wicket which is slightly better for the bowlers. They managed initial success taking two wickets for 37 as well. But in the third wicket stand, Fletcher and Sabbir Rahman added 65 runs.
Afif Hossain and Jason Roy were the first two batsmen to get dismissed for the Sixers. Afif scored only one run and Jason post 11 off 10 balls. Both of the wickets were hunted by South African pacer Hardus Viljoen who participated for the first time in BPL.
Sabbir was the third Sixers’ batsman to fall scoring 32 off 25 balls with two fours and as many sixes to his credit. Nayeem Hasan was the bowler to take the wicket of Sabbir.
After the dismissal of Sabbir, Fletcher and Mohammad Nawaz added 52 runs. However, their stand came to the end when they were dismissed by Hardus Viljoen at 153. Nawaz scored 34 off 19 balls with two fours and three sixes to his name, and Fletches struck 66 off 53 balls with six fours and two sixes.
Viljoen took four wickets conceding 29 runs and Nayeem took the other wicket for the Vikings.
Dhaka, Feb 1 (UNB) — Comilla Victorians defeated Dhaka Dynamites by one run on Friday at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Victorians posted 127 in 20 overs but Dynamites failed to chase it down in spite of superb efforts from Keiron Pollard and Andre Russell. Mohammad Saifuddin bagged four wickets for 22.
Dynamites needed 38 runs in last 24 balls. Saifuddin bowled the 17th over and gave away just one run and scalped the wickets of Pollard and Nurul Hasan Shohan in two successive deliveries.
Russell hit Shahid Afridi for two big sixes in the next over to amass 17 runs. Wahab Riaz was not fortunate enough to take the wicket of Russell in 19th over when he overstepped and Russell skied a catch which was taken in the third-man area.
Riaz conceding eight runs and took the wicket of Shuvagata Hom in that over.
The current runners-up of BPL required 13 runs in the last over to win the game. But Saifuddin finished the over conceding 11 runs and scalping Rubel Hossain, and subsequently, helping his side win the game.
The victory placed Victorians in the second place of the points table. They have 14 points in 11 matches with seven victories. The defending champions of BPL Rangpur Riders also achieved as many points but they have a better run-rate to lead the points table.
On the other hand, five consecutive losses made Dynamites’ chance to advance to the playoffs slimmer. Now, they must win the last game against Khulna Titans though the win itself will not ensure a place for them in playoffs. They also have to surpass the run-rate of Rajshahi Kings who have already secured 12 points from their 12 matches in the league stage of the tournament.
Dynamites started chasing 127 losing three wickets before posting 20 runs. The Sri Lankan recruit of the Dynamites, Upul Tharanga, failed to impress in his first match of the season. He fell prey to right-arm off-spinner Mehedi Hasan.
Right after his dismissal, Dynamites lost Mizanur Rahman and Rony Talukdar to Mosharraf Hossain and Saifuddin.
Dynamites skipper Shakib Al Hasan scored only seven runs. Their win now depended on Narine (22), Pollard (34) and Russell (30). But they were overshadowed by the superb bowling effort of the Victorians.
Saifuddin had his career-best bowling figures in T20s. Along with him, Mehedi Hasan took two wickets conceding 22 runs. Besides them, Wahab Riaz, Mosharraf Hossain and Afridi took one wicket each.
Dynamites had won the toss and opted to bowl first.
During the Chattogram phase of BPL, batsmen were enjoying a run fest in the batting-friendly wicket but began to struggle when the league returned to Dhaka.
Victorians managed to score 38 in the first wicket stand of Tamim Iqbal and Evin Lewis. West Indian Lewis fell for eight. He was dismissed by Narine.
Victorians lost their second wicket when Anamul Haque got out for a golden duck while facing Rubel. It was Anamul’s fourth duck in his last 10 games. He failed to touch a double-digit score eight times in his last 10 appearances
Imrul Kayes (7) and Shamsur Rahman (2) failed to manage big scores. Thisara Perera (9) and Mohammad Saifuddin (2) also disappointed with the bat.
Tamim was the best batsman for Victorians scoring 38 off 20 deliveries with four fours and two sixes. Besides him, Afridi (18), Mehedi Hasan (20) and Wahab Riaz (16) also contributed with the bat.
Rubel, the right-arm speedster of the Dynamites, scalped four wickets for 30 runs while Sunil and Shakib took two wickets each.
Victorians will play their last match of the league phase against Riders. Winning the battle will put them at the top of the points table.
Dhaka, Feb 1 (UNB) — Comilla Victorians have tumbled for a moderate total of 127 against Dhaka Dynamites at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on Friday in their 11th league stage match of the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
During the Chattogram phase of BPL, batsmen were enjoying a run fest in the batting-friendly wicket of Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. But when the league returned to Dhaka, batsmen started struggling to score runs.
Dynamites won the toss and opted to bowl first.
Victorians managed an average score of 38 in the first wicket stand of Tamim Iqbal and Evin Lewis. West Indian Lewis was struggling from the start of his innings and fell for eight. He was dismissed by Sunil Narine.
Victorians lost their second wicket when Anamul Haque failed to get out from the bad patch that he has been going through. The right-handed batsman got out for a golden duck while facing Rubel Hossain.
It was Anamul’s fourth duck in his last 10 games. He failed to touch a double-digit score eight times in his last 10 appearances
Imrul Kayes (7) and Shamsur Rahman (2) also failed to take advantage of batting first. Along with them, Thisara Perera (9) and Mohammad Saifuddin (2) also disappointed with the bat.
Tamim was the best batsman for the Victorians scoring 38 off 20 deliveries with four fours and two sixes. Besides him, Shahid Afridi (18), Mehedi Hasan (20) and Wahab Riaz (16) also contributed with the bat.
Rubel, the right-arm speedster of the Dynamites, scalped four wickets for 30 runs while Sunil and Shakib Al Hasan took two wickets each.
Spain, Feb 01 (AP/UNB) — With Lionel Messi and some of his Barcelona teammates in attendance, Cirque du Soleil has presented its production inspired by the Argentina great.
Guests were given red-carpet treatment on Thursday as producers showed details about "Messi10," the production that Barcelona says is "inspired by the talent, success and living legend that is Leo Messi, who so brilliantly exemplifies the spirit and values of the beautiful game."
The performances will begin in October in Barcelona.
The production is expected to go on an international tour beginning in 2020.