- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

MADRID (AP) - Villarreal says it has signed the Spanish league’s first Qatari player, 19-year-old striker Akram Afif.

Afif, who last year played for Qatar’s national team, was officially introduced on Thursday. He was signed from Qatari club Al Sadd but had been playing on loan for Eupen in Belgium’s second division. He previously played on loan at the youth squads of Villarreal.

The player says he is “happy to be back” to a place that feels “like home” to him.

Afif could play in Villarreal’s friendly against lower-division club Novelda on Thursday, a match that was expected to be broadcast in Qatar.

Villarreal vice president Jose Manuel Llaneza says Afif’s signing happened “solely for sporting reasons,” although he admitted it could help promote the Spanish club in Qatar.

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