Hosts Qatar retained the Asian Cup with a 3-1 win on Saturday against surprise packages Jordan with Akram Afif the home hero with a hat-trick of penalties.
Hosts Qatar retained the Asian Cup with a 3-1 win on Saturday against surprise packages Jordan with Akram Afif the home hero with a hat-trick of penalties. It was a fitting final act to a month of football that began with 24 teams and witnessed a series of dramatic games. It will also help dispel the memories of Qatar’s World Cup, when they lost all three games, the worst record of any host in the competition’s history. Playing in front of 86,492 spectators at Lusail Stadium, which staged the World Cup final 14 months ago, Jordan were in their first Asian Cup final and contesting the biggest game in their history.
Ranked 87th in FIFA’s world rankings, 29 places below their opponents, they fell behind midway through the first half when forward Afif held his nerve with a penalty for his sixth goal of the tournament.
Qatar fully deserved their half-time lead but Jordan roared back to equalise through Yazan Al-Naimat’s smart finish.
The underdogs were level however for just six minutes, Afif slotting home once again from the penalty spot after the referee was advised by VAR to go to his pitch-side monitor.
This time there was to be no Jordan comeback and Afif scored again from the spot for his hat-trick in injury time, again after a VAR intervention.
At the final whistle the triumphant Qatari substitutes raced from the bench and threw Afif in the air.
Afif holds nerve
Qatar came into the final attempting to become the fifth team to lift back-to-back Asian titles and hoping to erase the bitter memories of their home World Cup.