Record-breaker Almoez Ali named MVP
Abu Dhabi: Almoez Ali's was named the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Most Valuable Player on Friday as his record nine goals helped Qatar clinch the Continental title for the first time.
Ali struck once in Qatar's 3-1 win over Japan in the final at the Zayed Sports City Stadium to also seal the Top Goalscorer award on a historic night for him and his team.
The 22-year-old Al Duhail forward scored in the 12th minute with a spectacular overhead effort that left Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda helpless.
Ali was grateful to his teammates for helping him set the record.
"I expected to score goals, but I didn’t expect to score nine, I was expecting three or four. Thankfully the team helped me score many times.
"I would have been embarrassed as a striker if I didn’t score and I managed to score nine goals in seven games," said Ali.
Ali bettered the previous record of eight goals, held by Islamic Republic of Iran's Ali Daei,
Ali, who was also the leading marksman at last year’s AFC U23 Championship in China, had found the net in four of Qatar's six matches en route to the final, including a four-goal haul against DPR Korea in the group stage.
The forward attributed Qatar's triumph to self belief and teamwork.
"We had a target from the very beginning and that was to reach the semi-finals and to play one game after the other. We started against Lebanon and we were lucky we played in the final game of the tournament.
"We understood that the smaller teams could beat the bigger teams, so we analysed the Lebanon team and we beat them and eventually we managed to reach our target.
"Then we reached the final and we’re proud of that. The staff were working very hard with us over the last two months, so thanks to God we got to the final."