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Qatar retain Asian Cup thanks to Afif's penalty hat-trick

LUSAIL, Qatar: Qatar successfully defended their Asian Cup crown after beating Jordan 3-1 on Saturday (Feb 10) at Lusail Stadium where Akram Afif converted three penalties as the hosts won their second continental title.

Jordan was playing in their first Asian Cup final and seeking their first major trophy, but it was Qatar who prevailed in front of 86,492 fans including Qatar's ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

Yazan Al-Naimat had briefly given Jordan hope when he netted an equaliser in the second half but their dreams were shattered when they conceded two more penalties, put away by Afif who finished as the tournament's top scorer with eight goals.

Afif, who was thrown into the air repeatedly by his teammates after the final whistle, also picked up the award for player of the match and most valuable player of the tournament.

Parity lasted only six minutes, however, as Qatar won another penalty after a VAR check for a trip by Mahmoud Al-Mardi and Afif made no mistake from the spot.

"Scoring penalties is because of the confidence my teammates had in me. It's not about technique or choosing the angle, it's the feeling of having my team behind me," Afif added.

With 13 minutes added on, Jordan tried their best to find an equaliser once again but Qatar won a third penalty in stoppage time when Afif was through on goal and brought down by goalkeeper Yazid Abu Layla.

The forward kept his composure and stepped up one last time to put the game out of reach for Jordan as the home fans in the stadium erupted and unfurled a huge banner which featured their heroes from 2019 and the words "2023 loading".

"We weren't focused in the first half and we made mistakes. There were easy opportunities to