Qatar beat Jordan 3-1 to retain Asian Cup

Akram Afif emerged as the standout player, securing a triumphant 3-1 victory for Qatar over Jordan in the Asian Cup final held at Lusail Stadium, thanks to a remarkable hat-trick of penalties. This victory not only celebrated Qatar’s prowess on the field but also etched their name in history as the fifth team to clinch the Asian Cup titles consecutively, replicating their success from the 2019 tournament.

The match witnessed a significant turning point when Yazan Al-Naimat breached Qatar’s defense in the second half, leveling the scoreline after Afif’s successful penalty in the first half. However, the spotlight returned to Afif in the final moments as he confidently converted two more penalties following comprehensive reviews by the video assistant referee. These crucial goals brought his personal tally to eight goals for the tournament.

Jordan, buoyed by their unexpected 2-0 victory over South Korea in the semi-finals, entered the final with aspirations of winning their first Asian Cup title. The narrative for Qatar’s first penalty unfolded when Afif was brought down inside the box by Abdallah Nasib, having received a precise pass from Lucas Mendes. Afif’s flawless execution from the penalty spot concluded an impressive first-half performance by Qatar.

Despite Jordan’s spirited comeback in the second half, highlighted by Al-Naimat’s skillful maneuver to finish past goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham after collecting Ihsan Haddad’s pass, their resurgence was short-lived. Afif’s adept handling of pressure led to two more penalties for Qatar, first against the run of play after Ismaeel Mohammad was fouled by Mahmoud Al-Mardi, and then a decisive third penalty awarded by VAR when Afif was tripped by goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila.

The match concluded with Qatar’s historic title defense, the first since Japan’s victory in 2004, amidst vibrant celebrations in Lusail Stadium. Afif’s consistency and composure under pressure not only secured the win for Qatar but also highlighted his crucial role in their success, leaving an indelible mark on the tournament’s history.