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AFC Asian Cup Ultimate: Akram Afif hat-trick fires Qatar to back-to-back titles, victory over Jordan


Hosts Qatar retained the Asian Cup with a 3-1 win on Saturday in opposition to shock packages Jordan as Akram Afif scored a hat-trick of penalties. It was a becoming remaining act to a month of soccer that started with 24 groups and witnessed a collection of dramatic video games and loads of objectives.

It is going to additionally assist dispel the recollections of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, after they misplaced all three video games, the worst document of any host within the competitors’s historical past.

The 27-year-old Afif was the hero, holding his nerve as soon as from the penalty spot within the first half and, after beneath canine Jordan equalised, twice extra within the second interval.

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He was named participant of the match and completed high scorer with eight objectives.

His team-mates threw him within the air on the remaining whistle.

“It’s not concerning the approach or the angle,” stated Afif, requested how he was in a position to rating three penalties beneath stress in entrance of 86,492 spectators at Lusail Stadium.

“It’s concerning the feeling that the workforce and persons are behind me.”

Jordan have been of their first Asian Cup remaining and contesting the largest match of their historical past.

Ranked 87th in FIFA’s world rankings, 29 locations beneath their opponents, they fell behind halfway by means of the primary half when Afif slotted dwelling after being introduced down within the field.

Qatar deserved their half-time lead however Jordan roared again to equalise by means of Yazan Al-Naimat’s sensible end.

Jordan have been stage nevertheless for simply six minutes, Afif scoring as soon as once more from a penalty after the referee was suggested by VAR to go to his pitch-side monitor.

This time there was to be no Jordan comeback and Afif capitalised once more from the spot for his hat-trick in damage time, once more after a VAR intervention.

Magic trick 

Qatar got here into the ultimate trying to turn out to be the fifth workforce to elevate back-to-back Asian titles.

Qatar parachuted within the Spaniard Tintin Marquez to interchange Carlos Queiroz only a month earlier than the Asian Cup, in a significant gamble that paid off handsomely.

“I took cost simply earlier than the match however what was most vital was that I knew the gamers and so they carried out my concepts quick and executed my plans,” stated Marquez, who has a decade-long affiliation with Qatari soccer and managed one among their membership sides.

His workforce went forward on 22 minutes when the hazard man Afif, taking part in off the left, was clipped within the field by Abdallah Nasib.

Afif brushed himself all the way down to plant his spotkick into the underside nook, simply beating the outstretched arms of Yazeed Abulaila.

In an uncommon celebration, Afif did a card trick — he produced a taking part in card together with his image on it earlier than the picture flipped to an “S”, in dedication to his spouse.

Jordan, who defeated Son Heung-min’s South Korea 2-0 to achieve the ultimate, had been disappointing however they cranked up the stress within the second half.

A aim was coming and within the 67th minute it duly arrived, Naimat bringing the ball down together with his proper foot after which thrashing in together with his left on the half-volley.

Qatar responded virtually instantly nevertheless, and Afif produced the cardboard trick as soon as extra after beating Abulaila from the spot for a second time.

It was Afif, inevitably, who received the third penalty and he did the enterprise as soon as once more.

Jordan’s Moroccan coach Hussein Ammouta felt his facet wilted beneath the stress of the largest sport of their lives.

“There was a giant give attention to the gamers and I used to be scared that the setting would have an effect on them,” stated Ammouta.

“Folks can have good intentions however it could actually have an effect on them (the gamers).”

Surprises 

The competitors, initially scheduled to happen in China final 12 months however postponed and moved due to Covid, can be remembered for shocks — even when the ultimate failed to provide one final one.

Pre-tournament favourites Japan have been dumped out within the quarter-finals by Iran, who subsequently misplaced to Qatar in a five-goal thriller.

Jordan reached the semi-finals for the primary time and blew away South Korea, leaving coach Jurgen Klinsmann clinging precariously onto his job.

Tajikistan made the quarter-finals on their Asian Cup debut, whereas Palestine additionally made a bit of historical past by reaching the knockout rounds for the primary time.

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