Akram Afif converted thrice from the penalty spot to ensure Qatar defended its AFC Asian Cup title against a gritty Jordan on Saturday. Afif's penalties came in the 22nd, 73rd and 5th minute of the extra time (90+5) while Yazan Al-Naimat scored Jordan's solo goal in the 67th minute.
When Afif was handed the third penalty after a long VAR check players of Jordan smiled and applauded sarcastically -- in a show of protest. Jordan stand 87th in the FIFA ranking while Qatar, the hosts, are 57th.
He had been his country's standout performer from the start of the tournament and did not disappoint when it fell to him to produce the decisive moments against Jordan as Qatar became the first back-to-back winner since Japan in 2000 and 2004.
In front of more than 86,000 fans and with the pressure on, Afif never looked likely to miss from the spot and he sparked wild celebrations with each goal. “(I scored) the penalties because of the confidence my teammates had in me. It is not about technique, it is about the feeling that people are behind me - my team,” Afif said.
Qatar won the 2019 edition of the AFC Asian Cup beating Japan in the summit clash. They qualified for this edition's final seeing off Iran 3-2 while Jordan, who heavily dominated ball possession on Saturday, humbled South Korea 2-0. Not long after hosting the FIFA World Cup 2023, Qatar was among the favourites to lift the continental tournament.