Qatar beats Iraq for gold in Asian Cup football final

Qatar became the fourth hosts to win the 15th Asian Games football gold when they defeated Iraq 1-0 in the final at the Al Sadd Stadium yesterday. The solitary goal scored in the 63rd minute by Bilal Mohammed was enough to give Qatar the title. Iraq's Ali Rehema, standing in for suspended Younes Khalef, lamented that the absence of their regular captain had handicapped them. But he was happy nevertheless. "We wanted to win the gold, but we are happy to win a silver medal. Congratulations to Qatar," he told Suman Malla of Gulf Times.

At the start of the tournament everybody expected the traditional Asian football powers like Iran, Japan and South Korea to be the dominant teams in the men's football competition. But Qatar eliminated the defending champion Iran 2-0, in the semi-finals while Iraq ousted Asian powerhouse South Korea 1-0. Both finalists lost once during the competition, with Uzbekistan beating Qatar 1-0 in a group game and Iraq losing to China with the same scoreline.

Iraqi coach Yahya Manhel said he hoped people in Iraq would rejoice at the team's progress. "Football is the biggest sport in Iraq. Men, women and children all love it. There are many things which Iraqis disagree about but sport unites them," he said. Iraq had to beat near insurmountable odds to make it to their second Asian Games final. The security situation in Iraq prevented the side not only from having a training camp and they were also unable to practise for more than an hour a day.

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