Qatar's Afif and Almoez Shine in Asian Cup Opener | Sportsmonks
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Qatar’s Afif and Almoez Shine in Asian Cup Opener

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Five years after Qatar’s historic AFC Asian Cup triumph, Almoez Ali and Akram Afif, the standout players from the 2019 victory, showcased their brilliance in the opening game of the 2023 edition. As Qatar seeks to defend their title, the impressive form of Afif and Almoez positions them as the team to beat.

In the 2019 Asian Cup, Almoez Ali’s remarkable nine-goal performance set a new record for the tournament, earning him both the Top Scorer and Most Valuable Player awards. Equally pivotal was Akram Afif, who, at the age of 22, provided an outstanding ten assists, showcasing his creative prowess. Now, at 27, these two players are approaching the peak of their powers and remain instrumental to Qatar’s ambitions.

The opening Group A clash against Lebanon witnessed Qatar’s dominance, particularly from the dynamic duo. Although possession was firmly in Qatar’s favor, breaking down the resilient Lebanese defense proved challenging initially. However, just before halftime, Akram Afif, assisted by Almoez Ali, broke the deadlock with a clinical finish from the edge of the area.

The second half saw Almoez Ali reciprocate, finding the net after a superb cross from Mohammed Waad, extending Qatar’s lead. As the match concluded, Afif added the finishing touch with an individual effort in injury time, securing a 3-0 victory.

While the performance was impressive, concerns arose as Almoez Ali left the field with a limp in the final minutes. The extent of the injury remains uncertain, but it adds a layer of anxiety for Qatar as they navigate the tournament.

Beyond Afif and Almoez, Qatar boasts a talented squad. Center-back Al-Mahdi Ali Mukhtar displayed defensive prowess alongside Lucas Mendes, relegating key figure Bassam Al-Rawi to the bench. Captain Hassan Al-Haydos, despite his advancing years, remains a crucial contributor in midfield, and rising star Yusuf Abdurisag showcased his vibrancy in a starting role.

As the tournament progresses, Qatar anticipates tougher challenges, and the team’s success will hinge on key players rising to the occasion. Afif and Almoez, with their exceptional abilities, stand as the linchpins for Qatar’s aspirations.

In conclusion, Qatar’s opening display in the Asian Cup highlighted the continued brilliance of Akram Afif and Almoez Ali. Their partnership and individual contributions set the tone for a title defense campaign. While the team’s depth is evident, the duo’s form will be pivotal in facing stiffer competition. Qatar remains the team to beat, with Afif and Almoez leading the charge.

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By- Sahiba Suri

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