Akram Afif's Hat-trick Leads Qatar to Second Asian Cup Title in History
In a match defined by three penalties against Jordan in the final, Akram Afif's hat-trick propels Qatar to their second-ever Asian Cup victory.
Qatari star Akram Afif spearheaded his country's triumph at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, held in Qatar, by scoring a hat-trick in Saturday's final, leading the Maroons (Al-Annabi) to a 3-1 victory over Jordan.
On the grand turf of Lusail Iconic Stadium, under the watchful eyes of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, and Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II, the Crown Prince of Jordan, the Qatari team took the lead with a goal from Afif via a penalty in the 22nd minute.
In the second half, team Jordan managed to equalize with a goal by Yazan Al Naimat in the 67th minute, marking his fourth goal in his seventh match of the current tournament’s edition.
However, Jordan's joy was short-lived as Afif once again found the back of the net with another penalty in the 73rd minute, before sealing the victory with a third successful penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
With these goals, Afif increased his tally to eight for the competition, topping the scorer's chart of this edition by a two-goal margin ahead of his nearest competitor, Iraq’s Ayman Hussein.
Consequently, team Qatar successfully defended their title for the second consecutive edition, following their previous win in the 2019 tournament held in the United Arab Emirates. On the other hand, team Jordan, participating in the finals for the first time, lost the opportunity to claim the title and join the list of nations who have won the AFC Asian Cup.
It is worth noting that this was the third all-Arab final in Asian Cup history, following the 1996 final between Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the 2007 final between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.