Qatar thrashed the United Arab Emirates 4-0 on Tuesday, 29 January, in a game which was tarnished when the host team's fans threw shoes onto the pitch, a grave insult in Arabic culture.
Japan reached the Asian Cup final on Monday, 28 January, when they beat Iran 3-0 and they will take on Qatar on Friday.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and transport boycott of Qatar since June 2017 after accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.
The feud is thought to have more to do with a regional power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with Qatar seen to be too friendly with Tehran.
For the last two years the media in Dubai and Abu Dhabi has been pumping out endless propaganda, demonising the Qataris.
So when Qatar's players walked onto the pitch at the 43,000-seater Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, 29 January, they received a hostile reception from UAE fans, who have been given free tickets by the government.
Qatari Fans Not Allowed to Attend Match
Qatari nationals are currently banned from entering the UAE without a special permit, so Qatar had little vocal backing. But it did not stop them beating one of the tournament's favourites, South Korea, in the quarter final and it did not stop them beating the UAE.
#BREAKING Football: Qatar beat the United Arab Emirates 4-0 to advance to 2019 AFC Asian Cup final for 1st time— ANADOLU AGENCY (ENG) (@anadoluagency) 29 January 2019
Some citizens of neighbouring Oman — which has taken a neutral stance during the dispute — have taken to supporting Qatar at games, despite a law which says showing support for Qatar is punishable with 15 years in jail.
Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez Bas — who started out as a youth coach with Barcelona — has played down the significance of the dispute, which has led to the game being dubbed the "blockade derby".
Probably a bit sadistic and unnecessary, and maybe a bit immoral, but it's enjoyable when geopolitical enemies face each other, which is why we should all be on board the Blockade Derby between Qatar and the UAE later on today.— Ronan Morrissey (@RonanXonkM) 29 January 2019
Sanchez said Qatar's "focus is only on the games."
Qatar will be hosting the World Cup in 2022 — the first time it has ever been held in winter — and would be keen to go into that tournament as Asian Cup holders.
But the UAE beat champions Australia in their quarter-final and hope to go one better than their performance in the 1996 tournament — which they also hosted — when they reached the final, but lost on penalties to the Saudis.