The 2019 AFC Asian Cup final
Who: Japan v Qatar
When: 14:00 GMT, February 1, 2019
Where: Zayed Sport City Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Doha, Qatar – Underdogs Qatar will take on four-time winners Japan in the final of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup on Friday.
Japan, Asia’s number three side, sit 43 places above their opponents and are clear favourites for the trophy, especially after a commendable show in the 2018 World Cup.
For Qatar, the road to the final has not come without controversy.
Hosts UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt severed all diplomatic and economic ties with Doha, imposing a land, sea and air blockade on the Gulf nation in June 2017.
The team had to take a circuitous route via Kuwait lasting more than five hours to make an air journey that can be done directly in under an hour.
Playing against the backdrop of that regional political dispute, and without any fans in the stands, Qatar beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 in a group match and then thrashed UAE 4-0 in a semi-final which saw shoes and bottles hurled at Qatari players.
Following the defeat, the UAE lodged a complaint with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) over the eligibility of two of Qatar’s players.
But Qatar’s players, officials and fans are confident of putting those incidents behind them and bringing home the country’s maiden Asian Cup trophy.
“All the obstacles and the circumstances behind our participation in this competition have given our players more energy and motivation,” said Ali al-Salat, Qatar Football Association’s (QFA) media officer.
On the field, Qatar is yet to be beaten in the tournament and has not conceded a single goal in six matches.
With eight goals, 22-year-old Almoez Ali is the tournament’s top scorer, equalling the Asian Cup record.
“There are no words to describe what playing in the final means to me,” Qatar’s captain Hassan Al-Haydos told reporters on the eve of the final. “It is definitely very important to us as a team.”
Qatar’s coach Felix Sanchez believes his players are ready for one final push that can land them the title.
“The players are determined to get the victory we want by putting in one more huge effort against Japan so that we can make the Qatari people happy once again and make history,” said Sanchez.
Qatar’s fans have been unable to attend the fixtures in the UAE because of the ongoing dispute. For them, however, the team reaching the final is a feat worth the tournament trophy itself.
“We are winners already by beating all these teams, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq and South Korea,” Ali, a 30-year-old Qatari engineer, told Al Jazeera.
In the capital Doha, preparations were in full swing ahead of the final.
On Thursday, a grand stand was being mounted and beanbags, seating almost 750 people, were being placed for the screening of the final at Aspire Park.
A group of mothers, huddled up nearby, animatedly discussed the crowd’s behaviour from the semi-final.
Arrangements being made for the screening of the final at Aspire Park [Saba Aziz/Al Jazeera]
Special TV screenings will also take place at different locations around the city, including Souq Waqif, Katara cultural village, as well as restaurants, malls and hotels.
“Personally it doesn’t matter if we get the trophy or not,” said Bassam Hamdaoui, a Tunisian expatriate. “They have already overcome the big challenge. This Asian Cup aptly illustrates the Gulf political situation.”
On Twitter, fan reaction is split between the two teams, according to an Al Jazeera poll.
Football analysts are expecting an “interesting tactical battle”.
“Qatar have already shown how capable they are at upping the gears when needed,” said Martin Lowe, Asian football writer. “It will be a terrific game, which should showcase the very best of Asian football.”
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Qatar football shirts are in big demand ahead of the final [Saba Aziz/Al Jazeera]
The match will be shown on the big screen at Doha’s Souq Waqif [Saba Aziz/Al Jazeera]
Sign language: Connecting people and cultures
The Deaf Friends team – KUNA photosSign language is a full-fledged means of communication for deaf people, depending on facial and body gestures that enable them to interact. The UN General Assembly set Sept 23 as the International Day for Sign Languages to highlight their importance, and how it was a major right for deaf…
The Deaf Friends team – KUNA photosSign language is a full-fledged means of communication for deaf people, depending on facial and body gestures that enable them to interact. The UN General Assembly set Sept 23 as the International Day for Sign Languages to highlight their importance, and how it was a major right for deaf people to have their own languages. The international day coincides with the establishment of the World Federation of the Deaf, founded in 1951.
“Sign language is multicultural and derived from the culture of every country,” said Hamad Al-Marri, President of Kuwait Sport Club for the Deaf. Marri, also member of the higher council for the disabled, told KUNA deaf people will be using their hands and other body gestures to express themselves. Every country has a unique sign language depending on its culture, he explained. “There is an international sign language, an Arab sign language and a unique local sign language.”
Arabic days of the week in sign languageMarri said many deaf people have occupied senior positions because they excelled in the use of sign language. He added he proposed to the Civil Service Commission for the appointment of people with sign language expertise in government departments to help the deaf. Marri said HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah instructed Kuwait National Guards personnel, when he was deputy chief of KNG, to learn sign language to communicate with the deaf.
Arabic alphabets in sign languageDr Mohammad Al-Ramzi, a sign language instructor, said sign language “is rich, expressive and complicated just like the spoken language, and it has a grammar framework similar to all human languages”. Speaking to KUNA, Ramzi said Arab countries unified their sign languages in 1999 and a dictionary was published with more than 3,000 signs. Kuwait was the first country in the world to interpret three TV news bulletins. The bulletins were raised to eight per day in 2020, he added.
Ismail Karam, Technical Director at Kuwait Sport Club for the Deaf, said he learned sign language at Al-Amal (Hope) School for people with special needs, which he joined in 1960. After spending 12 years at the school, Karam graduated with the ability to write and sign. He then worked at the finance ministry’s printing press where he spent 30 years, during which he joined former classmates to establish the Kuwait Society for Deaf and Dumb in 1975. The society later changed its name to Kuwait Sport Club for the Deaf.
Al-Zahraa Al-Tamimi, member of the Deaf Friends team, said team members are teaching hearing-impaired people how to use sign language. The team, she told KUNA, sought to spread the use of sign language on social media, TV channels and public places. Kuwait is the second Arab country to introduce education of the deaf – the ministry of education issued a law in 1965 making it mandatory for people with special needs to get an education. – KUNA
Kuwaiti army chief, Australian commander discuss military issues
KUWAIT: Lieutenant General Khaled Saleh Al-Sabah receives Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force Brigadier General David Paddison. – KUNAKUWAIT: Chief of the General Staff of the Kuwaiti Armed Forces Lieutenant General Sheikh Khaled Saleh Al-Sabah discussed with the Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force Brigadier General David Paddison important matters and topics of…
KUWAIT: Lieutenant General Khaled Saleh Al-Sabah receives Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force Brigadier General David Paddison. – KUNAKUWAIT: Chief of the General Staff of the Kuwaiti Armed Forces Lieutenant General Sheikh Khaled Saleh Al-Sabah discussed with the Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force Brigadier General David Paddison important matters and topics of common interest, especially those related to the military. The general staff said in a press statement yesterday that Sheikh Khaled received Paddison along with his accompanying delegation during his official visit to the country.
During the meeting, the important matters and topics of common interest were discussed, where the chief of staff commended the depth of bilateral ties between both sides. The meeting was attended by Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Army Lt Gen Fahad Al-Nasser, Australian Ambassador to Kuwait Jonathan Gilbert and several senior army commanding officers. – KUNA
Myanmar will not address world leaders at UN General Assembly
Russia and China have reportedly agreed to allow Kyaw Moe Tun to keep Myanmar’s UN seat as long as he does not speak during high-level meeting.No representative from Myanmar is scheduled to address the annual high-level United Nations General Assembly next week, a UN spokesman said, amid rival claims for the country’s UN seat in…
Russia and China have reportedly agreed to allow Kyaw Moe Tun to keep Myanmar’s UN seat as long as he does not speak during high-level meeting.No representative from Myanmar is scheduled to address the annual high-level United Nations General Assembly next week, a UN spokesman said, amid rival claims for the country’s UN seat in New York after a military coup deposed the elected government.
“At this point, Myanmar is not speaking,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.
Myanmar’s current UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun – appointed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government – had initially been expected to address the 193-member General Assembly on Monday, the final day of the gathering.
But diplomats said China, Russia and the United States had reached an understanding, where Moscow and Beijing will not object to Kyaw Moe Tun remaining in Myanmar’s UN seat for the moment as long as he does not speak during the high-level meeting.
“I withdrew from the speaker list, and will not speak at this general debate,” Kyaw Moe Tun told Reuters the news agency, adding that he was aware of the understanding between some members of the UN credentials committee, which includes Russia, China and the US.
Myanmar’s military government has put forward military veteran Aung Thurein to be its UN envoy, while Kyaw Moe Tun has asked to renew his UN accreditation, despite being the target of a plot to kill or injure him for his opposition to the February coup.
UN accreditation issues are dealt with by a nine-member committee, whose members include the US, China and Russia. It traditionally meets in October or November.
Until a decision is made by the credentials committee, Kyaw Moe Tun will remain in the seats, according to the General Assembly rules. The same rule also applies to the representative of Afghanistan.
News of Kyaw Moe Tun’s absence on Monday comes as violence linked to the February 1 coup continues to displace thousands of civilians at home.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi’s government was overthrown by the military in February, sparking a nationwide uprising that the military has tried to crush.
Attacks on the military have increased after lawmakers deposed by the generals called for a “people’s defensive war” earlier this month.
News of Kyaw Moe Tun’s absence on Monday comes as violence linked to the February 1 coup continues to displace thousands of civilians at home [File: Osamu Honda/AP]The latest violence was reported in Chin state and Sagaing region in the country’s northwest, with soldiers engaging in battles with armed local defence groups.
More than 1,100 civilians have been killed and nearly 8,000 arrested since the coup, according to local observers.
Coup leaders have defended its power grab by alleging massive fraud during elections in late 2020 which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won by a landslide.
On Thursday, Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned of a human rights catastrophe under military rule in Myanmar and urged the international community to do more to prevent the conflict in the country from getting worse.
“The national consequences are terrible and tragic – the regional consequences could also be profound,” she said in a statement.
“The international community must redouble its efforts to restore democracy and prevent wider conflict before it is too late.”