Asia AFC Asian Cup

Akram Afif’s Triple Penalty Ensures Qatar’s Successful Title Defense

Akram Afif scored a hat-trick of penalty kicks as Qatar clinched their second consecutive AFC Asian Cup title by defeating Jordan 3-1 in the final at a bustling Lusail Stadium on Saturday.

Despite Yazan Al Naimat’s equalizer providing Jordan with a glimmer of hope, Afif’s composure and Qatar’s overall dominance ensured their comfortable retention of the title they had secured in 2019.

Afif’s hat-trick, the first of such at this year’s tournament, boosted his total to eight goals, earning him the Asian Cup top scorer award.

Before the match began, Iraqi legend Younis Mahmoud, who won the tournament in 2007, presented the AFC Asian Cup trophy to a full house at the Lusail Stadium, setting the stage for an electrifying final.

Qatar began with a burst of energy, with Afif nearly catching Jordan off guard in the fifth minute, only to be denied by goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila’s swift intervention.

The pressure from Qatar persisted, with Hasan Al Hydos delivering a delightful through ball to Almoez Ali, whose advance was halted by a vigilant Mahmoud Al Mardi.

In contrast, Jordan found themselves limited to counter-attacks, with Nizar Al Rashdan’s long pass to Ali Olwan leading to Yazan Al Naimat’s powerful attempt, which goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham managed to parry.

Jordan’s struggles were evident when Afif capitalized on Abdallah Nasib’s foul in the 22nd minute, confidently converting the resulting penalty to extend his tournament goal tally to six, solidifying his status as this year’s Asian Cup top scorer.

Despite Jordan’s attempts to level the score before halftime, including Mousa Tamari’s blocked effort and subsequent miss, Qatar maintained their lead.

In the second half, Jordan surged forward, pressuring Qatar’s defense. Barsham was forced into action, denying Olwan and Ehsan Haddad’s attempts.

Jordan’s persistence paid off in the 67th minute when Al Naimat displayed exceptional control inside the penalty area, slotting the ball into the bottom corner.

However, Qatar regained the lead in the 73rd minute after being awarded a second penalty, which Afif converted with precision.

The relentless pressure from Qatar resulted in a third penalty in added time, with Afif completing his hat-trick from the spot, securing Qatar’s second AFC Asian Cup title.