Qatar's Akram Afif was named Asian Cup player of the tournament

Doha (AFP) - Qatar’s Asian Cup final hero Akram Afif said “the team and people were behind me” after he scored a hat-trick of penalties in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Jordan to help his side retain their title.

The livewire forward was named player of the tournament and finished as top scorer on eight goals for the hosts and defending champions in Doha.

Afif held his nerve to convert from the spot three times against Jordan in front of over 85,000 fans at Lusail Stadium, which staged the World Cup final 14 months ago.

The 27-year-old said he “scored because of the confidence my teammates had in me”.

“It’s not about the technique or the angle, it’s about feeling that the team and people are behind me,” he said.

Afif celebrated his goals by producing a playing card with his picture on it before the image flipped to an “S”.

He later revealed that it was a tribute to his wife, who was attending a game at the stadium for the first time.

”’S’ is the first letter of my wife’s name,” he said.

“This was her first time so congratulations, the cup will remain in Doha.”

Afif plays for Qatari side Al-Sadd and had stints at clubs in Belgium and Spain earlier in his career.

He said he “would like to” have another crack at making it in Europe but admitted it was “difficult”.

“It’s not an easy decision – there are so many factors at play,” he said.

“It’s a question of fate. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”

Afif helped Qatar banish the painful memory of their 2022 World Cup flop on home soil by retaining the Asian Cup.

They lost all three of their World Cup games and crashed out in the group phase, the worst record of any host in the competition’s history.

But it was a different story at the Asian Cup, where Qatar retained their title despite replacing coach Carlos Queiroz with Tintin Marquez a month before the tournament began.

“The coach worked hard with us,” said Afif.

“You know the teams that we played against. This was not something easy.”