Doha: Qatar and Oman are set for a showdown to decide the winners of AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020 qualifying Group A, after both sides continued their winning starts to the competition yesterday.
Oman kept their campaign on track, recording their second successive narrow win with a 2-1 victory over Afghanistan, while Qatar trounced Nepal 5-0.
Second half goals to Ahmed Al Matroushi and Muhsen Al Ghassani took the Omanis to six points from two matches, setting up tomorrow’s match against group hosts Qatar to decide who takes the group’s direct qualification place in Thailand.
Afghanistan’s defeat leaves them without a point after two matches, meaning their qualification hopes have been dashed following Qatar’s win against Nepal
Meanwhile, Qatar continued their trouble-free start to their campaign, producing a commanding second half performance to overpower Nepal and secure a 5-0 win.
While the hosts delivered an impressive team performance, the match will be best remembered for the two sensational second-half goals scored by Bassam Al Rawi.
Qatar spent almost all of the first half on the front foot, but their attacking forays often came unstuck on the final pass, and they only managed two shots at goal in the opening 45 minutes, with Nepal unable to test their aim at all.
Despite the lack of goalmouth action, the hosts did go to the break with a 1-0 lead after Abdullah Al Ahrak sent a penalty into the top corner in the 25th minute.
Al Rawi – captaining the side after his starring role in Qatar’s AFC Asian Cup triumph two months ago – provided a moment of outstanding quality in the 54th minute, letting fly with an extraordinary 35-yard half volley which sailed beyond Nepali goalkeeper Arpan Karki and into the back of the net.
An unfortunate Dinesh Rajbanshi own goal extended the lead further, before the brilliant Al Rawi produced another stunner in the 80th minute, this time sending a wonderful 30-yard free-kick into the top corner. In a moment Karki would prefer to forget, Al Ahrak added the final coat of gloss, scoring on the bounce with a speculative long-range effort in the dying minutes, as Qatar sealed a thumping win.
Superior goal difference means Albert Caballeria’s side will need only a draw against Oman to secure direct qualification.Courtesy:ThePeninsula