Posted on February 01, 2018

Paris Saint-Germain became the first three-time winners of the Al Kass International Cup as they eclipsed Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 on Wednesday. The French club also won in 2012 and 2015. Benfica took third place by beating Esperance de Tunis, 3-0.

A super blue blood moon was on the rise in the sky above Aspire Zone as the players took the field, but this celestial spectacular was more than matched by the enthralling game that followed. Kashiwa wasted no time in the title match, opening up an early lead. In the fourth minute, Hayato Fujimoto launched a remarkable shot from the right side over the head of PSG keeper Trey Vimalin, a remarkable goal that set the tone for the rest of the game. With the lead, Kashiwa settled into its usual defensive posture, and PSG went on the attack. The French side equalized on 33 minutes, when Tanguy Coulibaly got on the end of a low cross and gave keeper Leo Kokubo no chance.

The second half saw more retrenchment from Kashiwa and more siege from PSG. The pressure came to fruition in the 54th minute, when a Kashiwa defender was whistled for a handball in the area. Coulibaly snuck his penalty underneath Kokubo, and PSG had its lead. Kashiwa was forced to bring its attack forward and nearly equalised with 15 minutes remaining, but Vimalin was just able to tip Hosoya's shot wide. It was the last, best chance for Kashiwa, who could only watch as PSG raised the cup for the third time.

PSG coach Laurent Huard said,"It was an extremely difficult match. Kashiwa had a strong defence, so we didn't have an opportunity to score more goals, but thankfully we managed to score the second goal and win the Al Kass International Tournament. I'm so proud of my team, the performed phenomenally." Mansoor al Ansari, General Secretary of Qatar Football Association, said,"To see the youth come up and play against great teams from all over the world is an amazing experience for them, and for us, across the board. And also on an organisational basis, to give all of the participating teams the opportunity to experience what Qatar has to offer, from the facilities to the nice weather, as well as the level of football, I think it will be a great memory for all of the players."

The winners medals were presented by football legend Raul Gonzalez, Real Madrid's second all-time leading scorer who also played for Al Sadd in the QNB Stars League."I'm happy to be back at Aspire Academy to see old colleagues and friends. It is great to see the constant progress in football and how enthusiastic people are about the game," he said."The Al Kass tournament is one of the best examples of this. Al Kass provides one of the most valuable opportunities to see the best talents in football, and maybe we will see some of these young players come back to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup."

Ahmed al Abbassi, Executive Director of Qatar National Teams, said,"We participate in several big tournaments, but the Al Kass International Cup is by far the strongest in terms of technical quality of the different teams that we play against. It's a catalyst for the players to gain experience against the best players in the world of their age."