Captain Afif stars in Qatar’s win over Kuwait in World Cup qualifier

Captain Afif stars in Qatar’s win over Kuwait in World Cup qualifier

QLNews
By QLNews

Akram Afif effortlessly stepped into the shoes of experienced captain Hassan Al Haydos, who recently announced his retirement, to help Qatar earn a 3-0 win over Kuwait in the preliminary joint qualification – Round 2 match for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027.

Donning the captain’s armband for the first time, Afif celebrated his new role by striking twice at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Thursday.

The reigning Asian champions broke the deadlock two minutes into the second half with a simple tap-in from Afif. Four minutes later, 19-year-old substitute Ahmed Al Rawi scored his first-ever senior goal, before Afif added another in the 68th.

The win put Qatar one step closer to qualifying for the next round. Qatar currently lead Group A with nine points, five more than second-placed India, who drew with Afghanistan 0-0 on Thursday.

Qatar will now travel to Kuwait for the reverse fixture, which will be held on March 26 at the Sabah Al Salem Stadium. A win in Kuwait City will guarantee Qatar a place in the joint qualifiers’ third round.

There was a poignant moment at the stadium during the 10th minute of the game when fans paid homage to former Qatar captain Hassan Al Haydos by unfurling a banner with the image of the two-time AFC Asian Cup winner.

On the pitch, a mistake by goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham in the 15th minute almost gifted Kuwait the opening goal. He missed an attempted punch and only a timely save by Lucas Mendes saved the team the blushes.

Marquez Lopez’s side came out firing on all cylinders in the second half after the Spanish coach made some important changes. He brought in Ismail Mohamed and Ahmed Al Rawi for Abdullah Al Maarafi and Mahdi Salem and it made an immediate impact.

Two minutes after restart, Afif fired in from close range before Al Rawi doubled the score in the 51st, controlling the ball perfectly to smash home a rebound after Abdulghafoor spilled a save.

Qatar’s dominance saw them add a third through Afif in the 68th, the skipper scoring from the rebound after his initial effort had bounced off Abdulghafoor.

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