Goal hero Afif says Afghans fought hard in ‘chilly’ Dushanbe
Qatar’s goal hero Akram Afif yesterday praised Afghanistan’s fighting spirit in a tough 1-0 win for the Asian Cup champions.
Playing in tough ‘chilly conditions’, Qatar relied on a second-half penalty – 14 minutes from time – to seal a 1-0 win at Republican Central Stadium here in Dushanbe.
A 1-0 win for Qatar – coached by Felix Sanchez – was a far cry from the 6-0 drubbing they handed Afghanistan when the two met in Doha a little over two months ago.
“We tried to win the match on a solid performance. The weather was a bit chilly and that kind of impacted our performance. It was not easy to fight against a spirited Afghanistan who also was ready to fight it out,” Afif, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Monday, said after the match.
“I am glad that we won the match despite hardships. We are happy. We found the going tough in the first half. But in the second half, we found our pace and rhythm,” the Asian Cup hero added in his chat with Al Kass Sports Channel.
“I would say we were lucky also but in the end the result matters. Thank God for the three points. It is the result that we were looking for,” Afif, who was shown a yellow card in the 90th minute, said yesterday.
Yesterday’s goal could boost Afif’s chances of winning the AFC Player of the Year award to be announced on December 2 in Kuala Lumpur. Afif is one of three players shortlisted for Asia’s equivalent of FIFA’s Player of the Year award.
Afghanistan captain Farshad Noor yesterday said his team could have done better ‘with a bit of luck’.
“We played a good game. We created good opportunities. We spoke that’s how we will play. We were unlucky that we could not score a goal,” Noor said after the Group E clash.
“In the end, it was a great game. It was a good experience. We could have got a point against a top side. Maybe we could have won also with a bit of luck,” the 25-year-old midfielder added.
Qatar is still at the top of Group E in their first five qualifiers. Sanchez’s side has a tally of 13 points while Afghanistan remains on four points with three games left in the second phase of qualifying.
By Rizwan Rehmat I The Peninsula