February 24, 2024

Qatar’s prized playmaker Akram Afif sealed the victory in opposition to Lebanon in stoppage time when he took the hosts to three–0.

Akram Afif placed on a present to kickstart hosts Qatar’s marketing campaign with three priceless factors within the bag [Zhizhao Wu/Getty]

Asian Cup hosts Qatar kicked off their title defence with a 3–0 win over Lebanon within the match opener on Friday with a brace from their prized playmaker Akram Afif and a aim from Almoez Ali.

Following a gap ceremony with Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani additionally in attendance on the Lusail Stadium, Afif placed on a present to kickstart their marketing campaign with three priceless factors within the bag.

“Akram was named essentially the most priceless participant of the match, he is a really high-quality participant and he deserves that,” Qatar coach Marquez Lopez advised reporters.

“I used to be very proud of the match and the way we delivered on our personal pitch, the gamers gave 200 p.c of what was required.”

Qatar scored early by way of the 2019 match’s high scorer Ali and the group went ballistic when he discovered the online, however the euphoria died down rapidly when everybody noticed the linesman’s flag up for offside.

The hosts dominated the opening phases however Lebanon slowly discovered their footing, with veteran skipper Hassan Maatouk firing a warning shot straight at Qatar goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham.

Afif was the busiest participant within the closing third, staying two steps forward of the Lebanon defence by discovering area and creating loads of possibilities whereas the playmaker additionally noticed a header graze the crossbar on its manner over.

The al-Sadd participant’s persistence lastly paid off on the stroke of halftime when Ali trapped the ball contained in the field, noticed an unmarked Afif arrive and backed away for his 27-year-old strike accomplice to fireside house as the group roared again into life.

Considered one of Asia’s finest

“We conceded the primary aim on the worst time… we performed an enormous group with expertise they usually punished all our errors, Lebanon coach Miodrag Radulovic mentioned.

“Akram Afif is without doubt one of the finest gamers in Asia, he may even play in Europe. He is a frontrunner of this group and together with his high quality he determined the sport tonight.”

Ali scored 9 targets within the 2019 match and he picked up the place he left off when he doubled Qatar’s lead 11 minutes after the restart, heading house a pleasant cross from Mohammed Waad on the flank.

The aim put a spring in Qatar’s step they usually routinely minimize by way of Lebanon’s defence.

In the meantime, their much less illustrious opponents struggled to persistently string collectively passes after they ventured into Qatar’s half.

Afif sealed the victory in stoppage time when he pounced on a botched clearance and simply accelerated previous a tiring Lebanon defence earlier than making use of a peaceful end to make it 3–0.

The victory might go a good distance in giving the house followers some solace after Qatar misplaced all three World Cup group video games in 2022, however Afif mentioned they’ve already banished these demons from 13 months in the past.

“We’re proud we performed within the World Cup… We performed properly however we have forgotten in regards to the World Cup and even 2019,” he mentioned.

“It is a new day, each day is an opportunity to compete to raise the cup.”

China play Tajikistan within the different Group A recreation on Saturday.

(Reuters)

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