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Qatar’s Akram turns Sevilla’s spearhead

FOOTBALL runs in Akram Afif’s veins. The 17-year-old striker, who played for Sevilla at the Aspire Cup Under-18 International Tournament last week, made everyone sit up and take notice when he scored a brace and provided an assist in his team’s 3-0 win over Aspire A.

Akram’s father Hassan had played for Simba SC in his native Tanzania and Horseed FC in Somalia before relocating to Qatar, where he joined Al Ittihad, which is now known as Al Gharafa. After retiring from the game, Hassan coached Gharafa’s junior team and Al Markhiya.

Akram’s elder brother Ali is a Qatar international, who plays for former champions Lekhwiya in the Qatar Stars League.

“Akram is a promising striker who can baffle the defence with his speed,” said La League side Sevilla’s U-18 coach Francisco Garramiola.

“When he arrived at the club, he played with a bit of inhibition. But now, he’s enjoying his game,” said the coach.

Akram joined Sevilla’s youth academy for its training programme along with another Qatari player Muad Salmi.

“It’s a great experience to be at Sevilla,” he told Doha Stadium Plus.

Akram showed great confidence against his former team, ASPIRE Academy, where he learned the basic lessons of the game during his four-year stay.

“Sevilla are a strong team and I’m really happy to be there. I’m learning a lot, particularly about technical skills. I’m more motivated now,” said the youngster.

Akram also plays as a right-winger and has adjusted to the fast style in Spain.

“The game is quicker in Europe,” said the soft-spoken player.

Sevilla finished third in the tournament, but Akram left an indelible impression on the fans’ minds.

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