Head coach Marquez Lopez lauded his Qatar players for their composure and focus in their 3-1 victory over Jordan in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 final on Saturday.
The hosts produced a dominant display from start to finish with Akram Afif netting a hat-trick of penalties to seal the victory at a packed Lusail Stadium, a victory which meant back-to-back AFC Asian Cup titles for Qatar.
“I’m extremely happy and I congratulate the Qatari people and the players. We are so happy that we won the match. The tension was high.
“Maybe it was not beautiful football but everyone remembers the winner and I’m proud of my players and their achievements,” said Lopez.
Afif’s hat-trick took his tally to eight, with his performances landing him the Most Valuable Player and AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 Yili Top Scorer Awards, and Lopez was effusive in his praise of the striker.
“I’m happy Akram (Afif) won both the awards and he deserves to win them.”
Qatar became only the fifth nation to win back-to-back AFC Asian Cup titles with Lopez having masterminded the triumph despite having only taken charge in December.
“I have been working in Qatar and I know the players well. It was easy to work with them and they effectively implemented our ideas on the field.
“For now, I’m going to go back to work with Al Wakrah (in the Qatar Stars League). I’m not sure what will happen but we will enjoy the moment for now.”
Abdulaziz Hatem, the Annabi midfielder, yesterday said his team deserved to win the Asian Cup final.
The 33-year-old said after the match: “A new chapter has been added in Qatar football history. It was certainly not an easy success.”
Hatem added: “This achievement was recorded thanks to the great work and collective efforts by everyone. What distinguished the team in this tournament was that we were far from being touted as the favourite. We were able to provide a distinguished level in all matches to reach the final and win the title.
“I thank all my fellow players for what they provided in the matches and the technical staff, which was able to play a major role in us winning the title for the second time in a row.”
Defender Tareq Salman praised Al Annabi’s performance and victory over its Jordanian counterpart in the final.
Salman said: “I thank God for this amazing win. My teammates delivering a crowning performance is indeed a new chapter in our football history. We extend our congratulations to everyone. It was a difficult tournament that we entered while we were far from being favourites.
“Perhaps this thing helped us a lot in avoiding pressures and we played normally in the first round as well as in the final against Jordan.”
He said: “I congratulate everyone on this achievement, which was the result of teamwork from the management, technical staff and players, as well as the fans who played a major role by supporting the team throughout the tournament.
“We lived a special night to win the Asian Cup title in our homeland and among our fans.
“We previously won the title, but among our fans, the tournament has a special taste, the sweet taste of a title win,” he concluded.
Qatar coach Marquez Loepz lifts the trophy after winning the AFC Asian Cup final against Jordan at Lusail Stadium on Saturday. (Reuters)
Qatar’s Tarek Salman celebrates after Akram Afif scores their second goal. (Reuters)