Doha, Qatar: Qatar's remarkable victory in the AFC Asian Cup on Saturday sparked jubilation nationwide, with fans cheering Al Annabi's consecutive championship titles. Leaders from various nations sent their congratulations following the historic win.
Qatar dominated the final, defeating Jordan 3-1 in front of a packed Lusail Stadium, solidifying their status as only the fifth team to retain the Asian Cup. With this victory, Qatar secured their 14th consecutive win across two tournaments, surpassing Iran's record of 13 straight wins.
Star striker Akram Afif, who scored a hat-trick of penalties in the final, was awarded the tournament's top scorer and player honors, tallying eight goals overall. His performance made history, as he became the first player to score in two Asian Cup finals, having also netted a goal against Japan in 2019.
"We put in immense effort throughout the tournament to clinch this title. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the entire nation and express gratitude for the overwhelming support from our fans," said Afif.
Goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham received the best goalkeeper award, completing Qatar's dominance in individual accolades. Coach Marquez Lopez praised the team's determination and unity, emphasizing their collective effort in achieving success.
"I am overjoyed and extend my congratulations to the people of Qatar and the players. Winning the match was a moment of immense tension," said Lopez after the victory witnessed by 85,500 spectators.
Midfielder Abdulaziz Hatem credited the team's collective endeavor for the remarkable achievement of securing back-to-back titles.
"It's a remarkable feat to win consecutive titles in such a prestigious tournament. Winning on home soil fills us with pride. Every member of the squad, including the coaching and technical staff, contributed to this success," he stated.
Currently ranked 58th, Qatar is poised for a significant rise in the FIFA rankings following their Asian Cup triumph, which included a semifinal victory over higher-ranked Iran.
Their next challenge lies in qualifying for the FIFA World Cup for the first time. The team began their Preliminary Joint Qualification - Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 strongly, with victories against Afghanistan (8-1) and India (3-0) in their opening group matches. However, the unexpected departure of coach Carlos Queiroz in December raised questions about the team's coaching situation.
As Qatar prepares for upcoming matches against Kuwait, Afghanistan, and India, the future coaching arrangements remain uncertain. Regardless, Qatar aims to maintain their momentum as they continue their journey towards World Cup qualification and further success on the international stage.