AFC Asian Cup 2019: The rise of Almoez Ali - Deadliest striker in Asia right now!

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The Qatari international has set the Asian Cup alight and has broken a few records along the way...

When Qatar meet Japan in the final of the Asian Cup, one man who will certainly be the cynosure of all eyes will be the Maroons' striker - Almoez Ali.

The youngster is the leading scorer of the Asian Cup with eight strikes to his name already and will be looking to add to that tally in the final.

The 22-year-old has been in terrific form and has delivered when it mattered, coming up with goals against arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and UAE. He became the first man to score eight goals in a single AFC Asian Cup tournament since the legendary Ali Daei pulled off the feat in the 1996 edition of the tournament.

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While the world has took note of Ali only now, it certainly has not been the case for regular followers of the Qatar national team. Interestingly, he was also part of the Qatar side which took part in the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup.

He was the topscorer of the 2018 AFC U23 Championship in China as well where Qatar finished third. His six goals in that competition was vital to an uplifting performance by the young Maroons.

He has translated that form with the senior team as well now and it is no surprise. The Sudan-born player has been part of the senior team since 2016. Interestingly, he actually made his debut for Qatar back in 2013 at a tender age of 17 against Bahrain. But the match was not officially recognised by FIFA.

Ali is a product of the famous Aspire Academy in Qatar and currently features for Qatar Stars League (QSL) side Al Duhail. He moved to Qatar as a child and the precocious footballing talent in him was spotted very soon by those at Aspire and Lekhwiya SC.

His promise meant European offers came for him. He was part of the youth setup at Belgian club Eupen before he moved to Austria to play for LASK Linz. He soon moved to Cultural Leonesa, a third-division club in Spain and became the first Qatari footballer ever to score in a Spanish league.

2019-01-29 Almoez Ali

He would then return to Lekhwiya SC for the 2016-17 season and was vital in powering the team to the QSL title, scoring eight goals and notching eight assists. He was also named the best U23 player of the season.

He would then go on to be a part of Al Duhail, which was formed after Lekhwiya and El Jaish clubs were merged.

While there is no doubt about his talent, Ali has gone one step further by translating that promise into performance on the grandest stage of the continent. Not only does he have a keen eye for goal, his pace and workrate ensures he creates opportunities for his teammates as well.

It was no wonder when former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho chose to single him out while evaluating the Asian Cup.

"Almoez Ali is an excellent player who can play abroad. I have to be honest, this (QSL) is not the league he can develop in," said the Portuguese manager to beIN Sports. High praise from someone who has seen it all in football.

More importantly, he has a mature and level head on his shoulder which was evident in how he handled the pressure in the semifinals against UAE in what was a hostile atmosphere.

Who knows, perhaps the deadliest striker in Asia right now will be plying his trade in a top team in Europe soon?

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