Qatar keep AFC Asian Cup trophy at home with 3-1 win over Jordan

Qatar became the first country in 20 years to win back-to-back Asian Cup titles with a 3-1 win over Jordan.

The world’s eyes were on the majestic Lusail Stadium once again as it played host to another historic final that saw hosts Qatar hold on to their Asian Cup crown against first-time finalists Jordan.

The country’s favorite footballing son and the tournament’s standout performer Akram Afif was the hero as he slotted in three penalties that gave Qatar a 3-1 win in an all-Arab AFC Asian Cup 2023 final on Saturday.

The hosts were one of the contenders for the crown but not outright favourites when they opened their tournament campaign with a 3-0 over Lebanon at the same venue last month.

But they leave Lusail as back-to-back champions – the first time the feat has been achieved since Japan’s consecutive wins in 2000 and 2004 – and with their star Afif as the continent’s best player.

Losing finalists Jordan leave with their hearts broken but their heads held high after an inspirational run at the tournament that landed them in their first-ever final.

Nerves wreak havoc on Jordan

Jordan began the match with jangled nerves and under the weight of the expectations of their adoring fans. They were unable to complete moves and lay the ball through to their strike force of Musa Tamari and Yazan Al Naimat.

Jordan reemerged a much-improved side after half-time. Pushed on by their raucous supporters, the players began showing glimpses of their attacking prowess. It resulted in an equalising goal from Al Naimat and the game seemed to be heading for a nail-biting last half-hour.

As soon as the ball returned to Jordan’s half, Jordan defended clumsily and gave away another penalty. Afif duly obliged to score the goal that put his tournament Golden Boot award beyond any doubt.

The swift change in fortunes and scoreline seemed too much to take for the Jordanian players and their fans. Their loud chants gave way to stunned silence as Qatar’s fans celebrated in disbelief.

Later on, Jordan’s coach Hussein Ammouta would pinpoint the second penalty as the moment his team fell far behind the hosts.

“The timing of the penalties was crucial and they didn’t allow us to make a comeback,” he said in his post-match news conference.

Ammouta, who has won over Jordanians in a matter of weeks, said the pressure from players’ friends and families, as well as fans on social media, may have impacted their performance.

“I cannot take away their phones and tablets and tell them they can’t talk to people – but I did have a fear that these factors would have an impact on their mental state during the match.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *