Qatar retains the AFC Asian Cup trophy at home with a 3-1 win over Jordan | AFC Asian Cup News

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Lusail Stadium, Qatar – The eyes of the world were on the majestic Lusail Stadium again as they hosted another historic final which saw Qatar retain their Asian Cup crown against Jordan for the first time in the tournament final.

The nation’s favorite footballer and player of the tournament Akram Afif was the hero as he scored three penalties to give Qatar a 3-1 victory in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup final on Saturday .

The hosts were one of the contenders for the crown but were not the favorites when they opened their tournament campaign with a 3-0 win over Lebanon at the same venue earlier this month. which went

But they leave Lusail as back-to-back champions – the first time the feat has been achieved since Japan won back-to-back in 2000 and 2004 – and with their star Afif as their best player the continent.

Losing out in the final leaves Jordan heartbroken but holding their heads high after an encouraging run at the tournament which landed them in their first ever final.

Nerves take their toll on Jordan

The Nashama started the match with jagged nerves and under the pressure of the expectations of their adoring fans. They were unable to complete moves and pass the ball through to their strike force Musa Tamari and Yazan Alnaimat.

The poor start cost them in the end when Qatar were awarded a penalty midway through the first half and Afif handed the ball over to his captain Hassan Al-Haydos. The number 11 made no mistake and rolled down his sock to take out a card with the letter ‘S’ written on it to mark it.

His special goal celebration sparked debate on social media but Afif later confirmed it was a nod to his wife whose name starts with the letter and whom he credits with his success.

“It was her first time watching me inside a stadium so I decided to dedicate it to her,” he told mock reporters afterwards.

A much better team came back at Jordan after halftime. Pushed on by their rabid supporters, the players began to show glimpses of their attacking prowess. As a result, an equalizing goal came from Naimat and it looked like the game was heading for half an hour at the end.

As soon as the ball returned to Jordan’s half, Jordan defended quickly and gave away another penalty. Afif was tasked with scoring the goal to secure his tournament’s golden boot award without a doubt.

The quick change in fortunes and the score seemed to be enough for the Jordan players and their fans. Their loud chants fell into stunned silence as the Qatari fan celebrated in disbelief.

Soccer Football - AFC Asian Cup - Final - Jordan v Qatar - Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar - February 10, 2024 Jordan's players look disappointed after the match REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Jordan’s players look unhappy after the game [Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]

Later, Jordan’s coach Hussein Ammouta would celebrate the second penalty the moment his team fell far behind the hosts.

“The timing of the penalties was crucial and they didn’t let us come back,” he said in his post-match press conference.

Ammouta, who has won over the Jordanians in a few weeks, said that pressure from friends and families of players, as well as fans on social media may have affected their performance.

β€œI can’t take away their phones and tablets and tell them they can’t talk to people – but I was afraid those factors would affect their mental state during the game. “

Soccer Football - AFC Asian Cup - Final - Jordan v Qatar - Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar - February 10, 2024 Qatar's Akram Afif celebrates their second goal REUTERS/Molly Darlington
Akram Afif holds a card reading ‘S’ after scoring Qatar’s first goal [Molly Darlington/Reuters]

‘Cristiano of the Middle East’

Qatar’s victory and Jordan’s fate were sealed in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Afif completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after being given the ball back by his teammates.

The 27-year-old was an excellent player and it was only a matter of time before he was linked with European leagues.

But the Al Sadd striker, who has had loans at Spanish clubs, dismissed the questions and said any move would have to be initiated by a club and approved by his beloved wife.

β€œFor now, all I know is that we’re back to back [Asian] champions,” said Afif with a shrug.

With his player-of-the-match performance, Afif won over new fans from across the Arab world.

“He is [Afif] he is too good – my word, he is Cristiano [Ronaldo] the Middle East,” Mohammed Rabeea, who came to watch Kuwait’s maths, told Al Jazeera after the match.

Others, like Mohammed Al-Kaabi, who is eight years old, were over the moon to see the player get a hat trick.

“It’s the happiest day of my life!” cried the young fan outside the stadium.

Soccer Football - AFC Asian Cup - Final - Jordan v Qatar - Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar - February 10, 2024 Hassan Al-Haydos of Qatar with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani after the AFC Asian Cup to win REUTERS / Thaier Al - Sudan
Hassan Al-Haydos with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar [Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]

The Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar attended the match and gave al-Annabi warm hugs and winners’ medals.

When it came time to present the cup to the winning captain of Al-Haydos there was a slight delay. What a prize in a show

Lusail is complete without black and gold bisht? The emir helped his captain put on the now world famous cloak before presenting him with the glorious prize that has never left Qatar.

Al-Haydos, Afif and Qatar’s hero in the goal Meeshal Barsham collected the main prizes of the competition and ensured that the trophy will not leave the country for another four years – at least.

The Lusail stadium was lit up with a ring of fireworks again and the adjacent railway track held another champions parade a year later.

The party that started in Lusail continued to different parts of the country with cars blowing and waving flags.

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