AFC Asian Cup MVP Who is Qatari football star Akram Afif?

Qatari star Afif rose from Aspire Academy to become the Asian champion, leading his nation to back-to-back titles. His talent, leadership and commitment inspire young Arabs

LUSAIL, QATAR – FEBRUARY 10: Akram Afif of Qatar accepts the award after winning the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 final between Jordan and Qatar at Lusail Stadium on February 10, 2024 in Lusail, Qatar. (Photo by Gao Meng/VCG via Getty Images)

Born in Doha in 1996, Akram Afif is not only a Qatari footballer, but a symbol of his country's rising ambitions on the global football stage. From his early days at the Aspire Academy to his current dominance with Al Sadd and the Qatar national team, Afif's journey is a testament to dedication, talent and an unwavering love for the beautiful game.

Afif performed some magical performances during the Asia Cup. He did the same in his celebration after leading Qatar 1-0 in Saturday's final against Jordan.

The forward scored his sixth goal from the penalty spot at the Lusail Stadium after being brought down by Abdullah Nasib in the first half.

Afif has been one of the stars of the Asia Cup and his goalscoring feat has seen Iraq's Aymen Hussain establish himself as the tournament's leading scorer.

Hosts and defending champions Qatar were aiming for a repeat of the titles after last winning the trophy in 2019.

Afif won the Golden Boot Most Valuable Player Award for scoring eight goals in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. His efforts were crucial as the hosts secured a thrilling win over Jordan.

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Afif cemented his place in history by adding three penalties in the decisive match. His performance propelled Qatar to a historic title defence, making them the first team since Japan in 2004 to claim back-to-back Asian Cup victories.

Who is Akram Afif?

Born on 18 November 1996 in Doha, Qatar, Akram Afif inherited his football heritage from his father, Hassan, who hails from Yemen but was born in Tanzania. After settling in Somalia, Hassan made his mark as a key player for Horseed FC and also represented the Somali national team.

Following his move to Qatar, Hassan continued his football journey with Al Ittihad (later renamed Al Qarafa). He eventually became a naturalized Qatari citizen and moved into management, leading teams such as Al-Qarafa and Al-Marqiya.

Afif inherited his passion from his father Hassan. Raised at Aspire Academy, he honed his skills, showcasing his speed, dribbling wizardry and deadly finishing.

Loan spells at Eupen in Belgium and Villarreal in Spain exposed Afif to different styles and competitions. Although he attracted flashes, Al Saad's return in 2018 marked a turning point. Reunited with familiar surroundings, Afif led his team to Qatari Stars League titles in 2021 and 2023.

Afif's impact went beyond club level. He became a key figure in Qatar's historic 2019 AFC Asian Cup victory, earning him the prestigious Asian Footballer of the Year award. His leadership and talent were on display again at the 2023 FIFA Arab Cup, where he scored the winning goal in the final, cementing his status as a national hero. He was an integral part of his team's FIFA World Cup in Doha.

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Afif's influence has spread far beyond his homeland. He is an inspiration to young Arab footballers, proving that talent and dedication can bridge cultural divides and achieve success on the world stage. His performances have attracted interest from European clubs, but for now, Afif is determined to take Qatar to even greater heights.

(with input from agencies)

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