Mercurial player Akram Afif scored his first international hat-trick as Qatar beat Jordan 3-1 in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 final at a packed Lusail Stadium on Saturday to become the first team to emerge as back-to-back champions since Japan (2004).
His Highness the Amir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani honoured Qatar captain Hassan Al Haydos with a bisht (robe) before awarding him the trophy.
Haydos also received AFC’s Fair Play Award on his team’s behalf while Afif received awards for being the Most Valuable Player and the Top Goal-Scorer of the tournament. Qatar’s Meshaal Barsham was awarded the Best Goalkeeper Award.
All of Qatar’s goals came from penalty strikes and Afif showed no nerves with the spot kicks, once in the first half (22nd minute), and twice after the break (73’, 90+5’) to also become the first player to score more than 10 international goals (12) over two successive tournaments, eight in Qatar and four in the UAE in 2019.
First-time finalists Jordan, who had ousted contenders South Korea in the semi-finals, got a temporary equalizer in the 67th minute from Yazan Al Naimat but despite the initial fightback looked out of stride while the hosts appeared fresh and oozed energy.
As many as 86, 492 fans watched the gripping final which saw more drama after Jordan had equalized. Both second half goals of Qatar came after the spot kick was given following video reviews by the referee.
For Jordan, this was first their first AFC Asian Cup final after having progressed beyond the quarter-finals for the first time.
The Qatar football team continued their celebrations on a double decker at the Lusail Boulevard long into the night.
When Qatar had clinched their maiden AFC continental trophy in 2019, the ‘February 22 Street’ – was named in honour of the triumph refrering to the date of the victory.