ASPIRE ACADEMY GRADUATE AKRAM AFIF IS AFC PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2019
02 Dec 2019, General
Hong Kong, 2 December 2019. Aspire Academy graduate and Qatar national team and Al Saad SC striker Akram Afif has been crowned Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Player of the Year at the Awards gala held on Monday night at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The monumental achievement follows on the back of another Aspire graduate, Al Saad and Qatar national team player, left back Abdelkarim Hassan winning the award last year 2018.
Akram Afif, who graduated from Aspire Academy in June 2015, is the current "Qatar Footballer of the Year" and started the year 2019 on fire as he played a key role in Qatar’s maiden victory at the 2019 Asia Cup held in UAE. During Qatar's successful campaign at Asian Cup 2019 helped his team lift the Cup, registering 10 assists overall, a new record for the tournament. Afif’s brilliance was not limited to the Continental stage, he excelled in Al Sadd’s run to the AFC Champions League semi-finals, scoring five goals, four of which came during the knockout stage.
The 23-year-old also shone on the home front, recording a stunning haul of 26 goals and 15 assists in Al Sadd’s 22-match Qatar Stars League campaign as he helped Al Saad wrestle back the domestic title from rivals Al Duhail FC.
Akram, born on 18th November 1996, became the first Qatari player to play in the Spain's first league when he signed for Villarreal in 2016. He also played for Sporting Gijon in Spain and Belgian club KAS Eupen. He is one of the most prominent and influential players presently in the game and has been scoring goals consistently including the solitary winning goal in November 2018 when Qatar beat Switzerland in Lugano. Akram was also a key member of Qatar’s Al Saad's team that reached the semi-finals of the 2019 AFC Champions League before narrowly bowing out to eventual winners Al Hilal of KSA.
Qatar international Akram Afif beat off nominees, defender Tomoaki Makino of Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds and Japan national team and Alireza Beiranvand, the Iranian international and Persepolis FC goalkeeper, to win the award. Afif could not be in Hong Kong in person, since he is currently with Qatar's national team competing in the on-going 24th Arabian Gulf Cup, where he contributed two goals to Qatar's 4-2 win against UAE on the night of the Award Ceremony.