Qatar Beat Jordan To Retain AFC Asian Cup With Akram Afif Hat-Trick

Feb 10, 2024

Hosts Qatar retained the Asian Cup on Saturday with a 3-1 win against surprise package Jordan, with home hero Akram Afif scoring a hat-trick of penalties. It was a fitting final act to a month of football that began with 24 teams and saw a series of dramatic games. This will also help erase Qatar's memories of the World Cup, when they lost all three games, the worst record of any host in the history of the competition. Playing in front of 86,492 spectators at the Lusail Stadium, where the World Cup final had taken place 14 months earlier, Jordan were in their first Asian Cup final and were taking part in the biggest game in their history.

Ranked 87th in the FIFA world rankings, 29 places below their opponents, they fell behind midway through the first half when forward Afif troubled them with a penalty for his sixth goal of the tournament.

Qatar fully deserved the half-time lead but Jordan hit back to equalize through Yazan Al-Naimat's smart finish.

Although the underdogs were level with just six minutes to go, Afif once again scored from the penalty spot after VAR advised the referee to turn to his pitch-side monitor.

This time there was no comeback from Jordan and Afif scored again for his hat-trick in injury time, after VAR intervention.

At the final whistle the victorious Qatari substitute ran from the bench and threw Afif into the air.

Afif remained patient

Qatar came to the final attempting to become the fifth team to win consecutive Asian titles and hoping to erase the bitter memories of their home World Cup.

Qatar parachuted in Spaniard Tintin Marquez to replace former Real Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz just a month before the Asian Cup, in a big bet that paid off.

His team had the better start to the final and scored a couple of early goals through danger man Afif, before Jordanian centre-forward Naimat found the palm of home goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham.

Qatar went ahead in the 22nd minute when livewire Afif, playing on the left, was clipped in the box by Abdullah Nasib.

Afif lowered himself to place his spotkick into the bottom corner, beating the outstretched arms of Yazid Aboulaila, joining Iraq's Aymen Hussein as joint leading scorers in the competition.

In an unusual celebration, Afif, 27, pulled a card trick, creating a playing card with his photo on it before changing the image into an “S”.

Jordan, who reached the final by beating Son Heung-min's South Korea 2–0, had their best chance in first-half injury time, but Moussa Al-Tamari's first-time effort was blocked by Mohammed Waad.

Hussein Ammouta's Jordan had a disappointing first half but turned up the pressure in the second, with Montpellier's Tamari, captain Ehsan Haddad and Yazan Al-Arab all forcing Barsham into saves.

The goal was coming and it duly came in the 67th minute, with Naimat bringing the ball down with his right foot and then hitting a half-volley with his left foot for his fourth of the tournament.

However, Qatar and Afif responded almost immediately, and he once again produced a card trick after defeating Abuelaila from the spot for the second time, this time in even more convincing fashion.

It was Afif who inevitably won the third penalty and he did the business once again for his eighth goal of the tournament.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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