Akram Afif, a MICPlayer champion of the Asia Cup 2024

It will probably not have as much media coverage as the UEFA EURO, but the truth is that, for some time now, the Asian Cup has raised its level thanks to some national teams such as Japan or Saudi Arabia, which dignified their participation in the last World Cup. In fact, Qatar, the host country of the last World Cup, had been simmering for years different generations of players for the 2022 World Cup through the Aspire Academy project. Among all the Qatari players who passed through this soccer factory with the aim of getting the chance of a lifetime, one name stood out above the rest: Akram Afif.

At that time, the best youth academies in Spanish football became aware of Aspire’s intentions and signed different collaboration agreements with them to temporarily incorporate some Qatari players in their youth teams. Then, Sevilla FC recruited Afif, who, due to bureaucratic issues, could not be officially signed and was limited to participating in tournaments such as MICFootball. At the Costa Brava, Afif impressed everyone with two goals in the opening match of the 2013 edition, which was played at the Estadi de Palamós.

Two years after his explosion at the MIC, the young Qatari player made his debut with the senior national team and began his professional career at Al-Sadd before making the leap to European football, where he played for KAS Eupen, Villarreal CF, and Sporting Gijón. With the European adventure under his belt, Afif returned to the club where he grew up and raised his football level with Xavi Hernández as coach.

On February 10, 2024, in a final to remember against Jordan, Afif won the 2024 Asian Cup with Qatar. The Qatari star scored eight goals in the competition, three of them in the final, which helped his team winning the title and crowned him the tournament’s MVP. Stories like his inspire the path of youngsters who, like Afif at the MIC 2013, have dreams of becoming stars in football.



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