DOHA, Feb 11 — Jordan coach Hussein Ammouta said his side caved in under the weight of expectation in their first Asian Cup final as they were beaten 3-1 by hosts Qatar on Saturday.

The home side retained their crown thanks to a hat-trick of penalties from Akram Afif at Lusail Stadium.

Qatar took the lead in the first half and were the better team in the opening period, before Jordan equalised through Yazan Al-Naimat’s smart finish.

But Qatar and Afif hit back with two more penalties to leave the underdogs Jordan heartbroken.

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“I talked before the game about the mental aspect,” said the Moroccan Ammouta.

“I told them to enjoy the game. It’s a final but I told them to enjoy it.”

He added: “There was a big focus on the players and I was scared that the environment would have an impact on them.

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“People can have good intentions but it can have an impact on them (the players).

“Their interactions with their families and on social media put pressure on them. It was clear.

“I am the coach but I can’t take their iPads and phones.”

Despite defeat on the day, Jordan put themselves on the footballing map as they reached their first semi-final in the history of the competition.

There they defeated South Korea 2-0 to reach their debut final.

“We have done well but we need to create the conditions to maintain this level and keep improving,” warned Ammouta.

“We need to keep improving the players’ skills and also their physical condition.” — AFP