Qatar will look to defend their AFC Asian Cup title at home against a side that has blown away the big guns.
Who: Jordan vs Qatar
What: AFC Asian Cup 2023 final
When: Saturday, February 10, 2024, 6pm (15:00 GMT)
Where: Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar
After nearly a month of high-octane football, featuring several surprises and upsets, the AFC Asian Cup is set to conclude with an all-Arab final, as hosts Qatar look to defend their title against giant-killers Jordan.
Qatar entered the tournament as the reigning champions, but they were not counted among the outright favourites to lift the trophy owing to their poor record against higher-ranked sides in the build-up to the event.
But Tintin Marquez Lopez‘s side have exceeded expectations with an all-round performance and by reaching the final for a second straight time. Enjoying the support of a partisan crowd, Qatar have scored in every game on their way to the final.
“I’m very proud to be a part of this squad – a month ago no one expected us to reach the final, no one thought we could deliver these performances,” Qatar skipper Hassan Al-Haydos told reporters on Friday.
“Working together with the coach, technical staff and the Qatar Football Association, we were able to reach this level because of the squad’s unity.”
While Qatar will carry the weight of expectations, Jordan will play with nothing to lose in their maiden AFC Asian Cup final.
The surprise package of the tournament, Jordan finished third in their group and scraped through to the knockouts, where they suddenly elevated their game to eliminate heavyweights Iraq and South Korea.
“When a team loses the coach is blamed and when they win they say it’s because of team morale. We prepare with all aspects in mind – physical, mental, tactical and psychological.
“I hope we’ll be ready when the first whistle blows and we’ll respond to the critics, 99 percent of the time I don’t listen to them since I don’t find anything useful.”
With three goals and an assist, Al-Tamari has been Jordan’s standout performer. The only player in the Jordanian squad who plies his trade in Europe – with Montpellier SC in France – Al-Tamari’s direct play and dribbling speed make him a threat to any defence.
Al-Arab been a colossal figure for Jordan in the heart of their defence, forming a solid centre-back partnership with Abdallah Nasib. Powerfully built and standing at 1.86 metres (six feet three inches), Al-Arab is a towering presence in both boxes.
‘Jordan will respond to the critics’
Al-Naimat has a knack for finding space between defenders and more often than not, times his run to perfection. Having scored in the group match against South Korea, the 24-year-old went up another level when he scored in the last 16 and semifinals.
Unlike 2019, Ali has not been firing in the goals at this tournament but there is no disputing the vital role he plays in the squad. The forward’s work rate is second to none, as he is equally adept in leading attacks and falling back to defend.
Jordan began their group stage by beating Malaysia 4-0 and then held South Korea to a 2-2 draw. They lost 1-0 to Bahrain but managed to qualify for the next round, where they knocked out Iraq 3-2 in a dramatic last-16 clash.
The quarterfinal saw Jordan beat Tajikistan 1-0 and they pulled off their biggest result in the semifinals when they beat three-time champions South Korea 2-0.
Qatar maintained a 100 percent winning record in the group stage, beating Lebanon, Tajikistan and China. They then edged out Palestine 2-1 in the last 16 but had to work hard in the quarterfinals for a 3-2 penalty shootout win against Uzbekistan.
In the semifinals against Iran, Qatar pulled off a mighty 3-2 win.
Jordan: W W W L D
Qatar: W W W W W
A whopping 128 goals have been scored across 50 matches at this year’s tournament. Of these, finalists Jordan have scored the joint-highest (12) along with Iran and Japan. Qatar are joint second on 11 with South Korea.
Jordan have kept a very solid defensive record at this year’s tournament, keeping four clean sheets in their six matches. Qatar, on the other hand, have kept three clean sheets – all of those coming during their group stage.
Champions: $5 million
Runners-up: $3 million