Qatar Beat Jordan 3-1 To Defend Asia Cup Title

51 matches later the AFC Asian Cup champions came out as hosts Qatar, winning their second consecutive title. Qatar defeated Jordan in the final on Saturday at the iconic Lusial Stadium by the score of 3-1.

Qatar became the first back-to-back winners of the competition since Japan won in 2000 and 2004. It is the fifth nation to successfully defend their title, the longest streak is by Iran who won it three times in a row from 1968 to 1976.

Akram Afif was the hero of the match for the champions, scoring a hat-trick on penalties, including the game-winner in the 73rd minute. Afif was the leading goal scorer of the Asia Cup with 8 goals, followed by Aymen Hussein of Iraq with 6 goals and Yazan Al-Naimat of Jordan who scored 4.

Afif provided ten assists in 2019 but scored only once during the whole tournament when Qatar secured their first continental title. This time around, with three goals in the final,  he won the tournament’s Golden Boot with eight goals and also helped with a further three assists.

The first goal came in the 21st minute, after Jordan defender Abdallah Nasib’s challenge from behind on Qatari forward Akram Afif resulted in a penalty.  Qatar skipper Hassan Al-Havdos was about to take the spot-kick when he turned away and knocked the ball into the hands of a waiting Afif. Afif didn’t make any mistakes, driving one past the keeper to give Qatar a 1-0 lead.

Qatar Vs. Jordan - AFC Asian Cup
IMAGO / Aksonline

From there it was Qatar’s goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham who stole the show, making several vital saves in the opening minutes of the second half. Even with his terrific effort however Jordan were able to equalize when Yazan Al-Naimat’s left-footed shot from the penalty area ended up in the back of the net. The goal leveled the score in the 67th minute and set up for an exciting end to the match.

Just six minutes later Qatar were able to reclaim the lead. VAR intervention led referee Ma Ning to rule that Mahmoud Al-Mardi had committed a foul on Ismaeel Mohammad in the Jordanian penalty area. The foul led to yet another penalty shot by Afif, which he buried at the top right corner.

Yet again, in the 91st minute, following another VAR intervention, Afif was at the penalty stripe. This time Ning awarded the penalty after Jordanian keeper Yazid Abu Layla was adjudged to have brought down Afif illegally. Afif once again scored with a dagger that put the match away 3-1.

Despite losing in the final, Jordan will be thrilled with their performance throughout the tournament. With very little expected for the team prior to the Asia Cup, they were able to make their way past many top teams to reach the final 2.

Jordan overcame Iraq, one of the strongest teams in the competition in the round of 16 to much surprise. They were able to score three times in the game, to finish 3-2 winners and move into the quarterfinals, equalling their best-ever finish. Then they beat Tajikistan 1-0 to move into the semi finals, entering a stage in the tournament they had never reached before.

Everyone expected the mighty South Korean team to be the end of the run but Jordan had other plans. Shutting out of the heavy pre-tournament favourites, Jordan were able to quite easily beat South Korea 2-0.

Losing in the final, one step short of their first ever title will be tough, especially after leveling out the game in the 67th minute. There’s no doubt however that Jordan will look back on the last few weeks with immense pride. They did what almost no one would have predicted entering the tournament and look like a team to reckon with in the future.

It’s worth mentioning that at the start of the tournament Japan and South Korea were favourites based on all the European league players in the teams. Stars included Son Heung-min, (Captain of Tottenham Hotspur), Bayern Munich’s Kim Min-jae and Lee Kang-in of PSG.

Although these incredibly talented players were available the competition showed that teamwork and coaching were more important. Of the teams that made the final there was only one active player from Europe.