Qatar wins the AFC Asian Cup 2023

Qatar wins the AFC Asian Cup 2023

Akram Afif's remarkable performance, netting a hat trick of penalties, sealed Qatar's consecutive Asian Cup titles with a 3-1 victory over Jordan on Saturday. Afif's first-half strike and two goals after the break at Lusail Stadium not only secured the win but also propelled him to the tournament's top scorer with eight goals.

Despite Yazan Al Naimat briefly leveling the game in the second half, Qatar's relentless pressure saw them awarded two penalties upon video review. Afif demonstrated composure, converting both opportunities. His stellar display in front of over 86,000 spectators mirrored the brilliance of past stars like Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé, solidifying his place in the tournament's history.

Qatar's achievement marks them as the first back-to-back winners since Japan in 2000 and 2004, and the fifth nation to successfully defend the title. This triumph comes as a surprise, considering Qatar's disappointing performance in the 2022 World Cup on home soil, where they exited after three consecutive group stage defeats.

Under the guidance of Spanish coach Márquez L³pez, who was appointed in December, Qatar faced challenges, including a 2-1 defeat to Jordan in a January friendly. However, their flawless group stage record, highlighted by standout displays from Afif, showcased their championship credentials.

Afif's early penalty put Qatar ahead, but Jordan, making their first Asian Cup final appearance, equalized through Al Naimat's strike. With Jordan gaining momentum, Qatar regained the lead when Ismaeel Mohammad was fouled in the box, leading to another Afif penalty, which he expertly converted into the left corner.

In stoppage time, Afif completed his hat trick after being brought down by Jordan goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila. Once again, a video review confirmed the penalty, and Afif calmly dispatched it to secure Qatar's historic victory.

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