- Akram Afif proved to be the epitome of calm by scoring three penalties
- Qatar wins its second consecutive Asian Cup title after a good tournament
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Akram Afif scored a penalty hat-trick to secure back-to-back Asian Cup titles for Qatar in a 3-1 win against Jordan on Saturday.
The striker scored in the first half of the final and then twice after half-time at the Lusail Stadium to finish as the tournament’s top scorer with eight goals.
Yazan Al Naimat had tied the match in the second half, but Qatar were awarded two penalties on video review and Afif showed no nerve to convert on both occasions.
Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé had lit up this spectacular stadium at the World Cup, and now it was Afif’s turn, with his goals in front of more than 86,000 fans crowning his outstanding tournament.
Qatar became the first consecutive winner since Japan in 2000 and 2004. It is the fifth nation to successfully defend the title, although Iran won it three times in a row between 1968 and 1976.
Qatar lifted their second consecutive Asian Cup trophy with a resounding 3-1 victory over Jordan.
Hasan Al Haydos of Qatar receives the trophy from the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
Akram Afif’s delighted celebration as he scores his third penalty of the match securing his hattrick and the trophy.
Afif was brought down in the box in stoppage time by Jordanian goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila.
But despite being the defending champion, this represented an unexpected triumph for a nation that endured a miserable World Cup at home in 2022 when it exited the tournament after three consecutive group stage defeats.
Spanish coach Márquez López had only been hired in December and Qatar was beaten 2-1 by Jordan in a friendly in January.
The preparations were not ideal, but it did not take long for Qatar to once again show their credentials as potential champions after achieving a 100% winning record in the group stage, with standout performances from Afif.
Afif won and converted a penalty in the 22nd minute on Saturday, but Jordan, playing in his first Asian Cup final, tied again when Al Naimat scored from inside the area in the 67th.
At that time, Jordan was on top.
Afif scored each of his goals from the penalty spot and showed a cool head at all times.
Jordan players look heartbroken after losing their first Asian Cup final
Qatar will feel a certain level of vindication after meekly withdrawing from their country’s World Cup.
However, he fell behind again when Mahmoud Al Mardi brought down Ismaeel Mohammad.
A video review was necessary before referee Ma Ning pointed out the spot, but when he did, Afif re-executed, shooting into the left corner.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time, Afif completed his hat-trick after being fouled by Jordan goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila.
Again a video review was necessary to award the penalty. Again Afif converted.