Who is Akram Afif, champions Qatar football star, AFC Asian Cup MVP?

Who is Akram Afif, champions Qatar football star, AFC Asian Cup MVP?
Qatari star Afif rises from Aspire Academy to Asian champion, leading his nation to back-to-back titles. His talent, leadership & dedication inspire young Arabs
3 min read
11 February, 2024
LUSAIL, QATAR - FEBRUARY 10: Akram Afif of Qatar accepts award after winning the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 Final match between Jordan and Qatar at Lusail Stadium on February 10, 2024 in Lusail, Qatar. (Photo by Gao Meng/VCG via Getty Images)

Akram Afif, born in Doha in 1996, is not just a Qatari footballer, but a symbol of his nation's rising ambition 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 produced some magical performances during the Asian Cup. And after firing Qatar into a 1-0 lead in Saturday's final against Jordan, he did likewise with his celebration.

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

Afif has been one of the stars of the Asian Cup and his goal saw him move level with Iraq's Aymen Hussein as the tournament's leading scorer.

Host and defending champion Qatar was aiming to win back-to-back titles after last lifting the trophy in 2019.

Afif claimed the Golden Boot Most Valuable Player award for his impressive eight goals at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. His efforts proved crucial as the host nation secured the thrilling victory against Jordan.

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

Who is Akram Afif?

Born in Doha, Qatar 18 November 1996, Akram Afif inherits his footballing lineage from his father, Hassan, who hailed from Yemen but was born in Tanzania. After settling in Somalia, Hassan made his mark as a prominent player for Horseed FC and even represented the Somali national team.

Following a move to Qatar, Hassan continued his footballing journey with Al Ittihad (later renamed Al Gharafa). He eventually became a naturalized Qatari citizen and transitioned into management, leading teams like Al-Gharafa and Al-Markhiya.

Afif inherited the passion from his father, Hassan. Nurtured at the Aspire Academy, he honed his skills, showcasing his pace, dribbling wizardry, and lethal finishing.

Loan spells at Eupen in Belgium and Villarreal in Spain exposed Afif to different styles and competition. While he impressed in flashes, returning to Al Sadd in 2018 marked a turning point. Reunited with familiar surroundings, Afif flourished, leading his team to Qatari Stars League titles in 2021 and 2023.

Afif's impact transcends club level. He became a pivotal figure in Qatar's historic 2019 AFC Asian Cup triumph, earning him the prestigious Asian Footballer of the Year award. His leadership and skill were once again on display in the 2023 FIFA Arab Cup, where he netted the winning goal in the final, solidifying his status as a national hero. He was a crucial part of his team's FIFA World Cup hosted in Doha.

Afif's influence extends beyond his home country. He is an inspiration to young Arab footballers, proving that talent and dedication can bridge cultural divides and achieve success on the global stage. His performances have attracted interest from European clubs, but for now, Afif remains committed to leading Qatar to even greater heights.

(With input from agencies)