Aspire Reach Semis and Dream of another Qatari Success Story
Hot on the heels of Qatar’s Asian Cup success, Aspire Academy raised hopes of another triumph for the nation when they reached the semi-finals of the Alkass International Cup.
A hard-fought 1-0 win over Turkish side Altinordu set up a last-four clash with either Roma or Spartak Moscow.
Aspire went close on seven minutes when Fahad Al-Abdulla sent his shot narrowly wide on but it was only a temporary reprieve for Altinordu as Khaled Bin Sabaa sent a fine curling shot into the net two minutes later.
Receiving the ball from Abdulrahman AlAbdulrahman, he gave Emirhan Emir no chance with a finely executed finish and it turned out to be the only goal of the game.
On the half-hour mark, Aspire skipper Mostafa Kadira was initially booked but the VAR officials alerted the referee that it was a case of mistaken identity and in fact it was Al-Abdulrahman who should have been cautioned. He was arguably lucky to escape a red card as his elbow connected with Altinordu midfielder Tayfun Tatli.
Altinordu’s best chance of the first half came in the 35th minute when Yigit Celtik sent in a free-kick from the right and Tunahan Ozturk’s neat backheel went narrowly wide.
The Turks were badly missing someone who could put the ball in the net as Enis Destan, who had scored both of their goals during the group stages, was unavailable.
Five minutes before the break, Kadira went close to doubling the advantage when his effort was saved by Emir but then hit the Aspire midfielder and looped over the keeper but Rahmi Kaya tracked back to clear. The hosts finished the half strongly and AlAbdulla forced a fine save from the keeper. Aspire also started the second half well and Mekki Tombari saw his 48th minute effort deflected wide after good work from AlAbdulrahman.
Tatli then sent a powerful effort wide as Altinordu pushed for an equalizer, but Aspire remained well organized and allowed the Turks very few clear chances. Aspire tried to make sure of victory and Osamah Altairi found Bin Sabaa who beat one player before forcing a fine save.