Bengaluru/Doha, November 15: 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar pulled off one of the most impressive results in their football history as they beat Switzerland 1-0 away in an international friendly played at Lugano on Wednesday (November 14).
Qatar, ranked 96th in the world, snatched the win against world No.8 Switzerland after Akram Afif broke away and rounded Yvon Mvogo to score the only goal in the 86th minute of a lacklustre match played in front of a paltry 4,000 crowd.
Afif plies his trade with Al Sadd on loan from Villarreal and his late-winner adds to the growing reputation of Felix Sanchez's side, who are preparing to make their FIFA World Cup debut as the host nation four years down the line.
The Swiss twice hit the crossbar, firstly with a Michael Lang header in the first half and then a Christian Fassnacht effort after the break, but the visitors also had several chances.
" Akram Afif scored an 86th minute winner for Qatar as they stunned Switzerland in an international friendly on Wednesday night. Liverpool star Xherdan Shaqiri was unable to turn things around in Lugano. .. https://t.co/F7wAnytFtb pic.twitter.com/i0sTZO2jXn— Soccer News (@socnew1) November 14, 2018
Qatar, who have never played at the World Cup, have won four of their last five matches including a 4-3 win over Ecuador last month.
The win against a side that boasts of stars like captain Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, who came off the bench as half-time substitute, would definitely boost Qatar's preparation for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup to be held in the UAE from January 5 to February 1.
Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic had retained the core of his squad who played the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, but give opportunities to a lot of youngsters to showcase their skills.
"Our first half was very poor, the second was a bit better but I can't say our opponents did not deserve the win," said Petkovic.
The domestic leagues across the world have taken a break for a week to allow national teams play international friendlies.
The Swiss host Belgium in a Nations League match on Sunday (November 18), while Qatar will take on Iceland the next day.
(With inputs from Agencies)