Just one day before the final, Asian Cup organizers say they are investigating a complaint about the eligibility of two Qatar players. Possible sanctions include Qatar forfeiting the final against Japan.
The complaint was reportedly lodged by hosts the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who were hammered 4-0 by Qatar in a charged semifinal that saw the home crowd pelt the victors with plastic bottles and shoes.
"The Asian Football Confederation has received a protest from the United Arab Emirates FA regarding the eligibility of two Qatar players," the organization confirmed in a statement. "This protest will now be reviewed in line with the AFC regulations."
Several reports suggest the players in question are striker Almoez Ali (pictured, right), who has scored a record-equalling eight goals at the tournament, and defender Bassam Al-Rawi.
Ali, 22, is of Sudanese descent while 21-year-old Al-Rawi was born in Iraq. Article 7 of FIFA'S regulations state that a player is to eligible to play for the country if one of his parents or grandparents were born there.
According to the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Code, the penalty for fielding an ineligible player is forfeiting the match and a fine, meaning Qatar could potentially not make Friday's final.
Qatar's players 'focused on the game'
But Qatar's coach Felix Sanchez said he was not worried about potential sanctions.
"I'm not concerned at all ... no worries about it," Sanchez told reporters on Thursday. "We're here one more day, tomorrow we're playing one game and only focused on the game," he added.
"Any other thing that's not related to the football point of view is not related to our minds at this moment."
mp/pfd (AFP, AP)