Bowing out with class: Japan suffer Asian Cup heartache, but still leave changing room SPOTLESS

Bowing out with class: Japan suffer Asian Cup heartache, but still leave changing room SPOTLESS
Japan’s footballers have again won plaudits for their class off the pitch, leaving their dressing room at the Asian Cup in Abu Dhabi immaculate despite suffering heartache in a 3-1 defeat in the final against Qatar.

Aiming for a fifth Asian Cup title, the Samurai Blue were undone by tournament sensations Qatar, who saw striker Almoez Ali score a stunning overhead kick to hand them an early lead.

Abdulaziz Hatem doubled Qatar's lead in the 27th minute, and while Japan reduced the arrears through Takumi Minamino's 69th-minute strike, a late penalty from Akram Afif secured Qatar’s first-ever Asian Cup title.

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The despondent Japanese did not forget their good manners though, with the official Asian Cup Twitter account posting a picture after the game of the immaculate state of the Japanese dressing room - along with a 'Thank you' message in English, Japanese and Arabic.

The Japanese team won similar plaudits at the World Cup in Russia last summer, where they suffered an agonizing last 16 defeat against Belgium.

READ MORE: Pure class: Japan cleans out lockers & bows to fans after devastating World Cup defeat

Qatar’s unlikely win came amid a backdrop of political and economic tensions with its regional neighbors.

Tournament hosts the UAE are among a group of Arab states blockading Doha over alleged links to terrorism and ties to Iran.

Qatar defeated bitter regional rivals Saudi Arabia 2-0 in the group stage, before seeing off the UAE 4-0 in a highly-charged semifinal that saw some home fans hurl objects including their shoes at Qatari players.

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The win for the 2022 World Cup hosts sparked jubilant scenes back in Doha as the nation picked up a first major title, and at the same time got one over on their regional rivals.