January 17 – On a day of heartbreak, tears and joy at the Asian Cup Oman and Vietnam booked spots among Asia’s last 16 as Lebanon, Palestine, Turkmenistan and North Korea crashed out and waved goodbye to the tournament.
There was excruciating pain for the Lebanese as they came from behind to defeat North Korea 4-1 in their final group E game in Sharjah, but that victory was not enough to secure a berth in the knockout stages. Lebanon lost out to Vietnam on the FairPlay rule after both teams finished their first round campaigns with identical points and goal difference. At the last World Cup Japan also benefited from the FairPlay rule at the expense of Colombia in the first round.
Lebanon required a four-goal victory to seal qualification. With Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan and Oman already having qualified as the three best third placed teams in the group stages, the fourth and final qualification berth between Vietnam and Lebanon was decided based on the disciplinary record.
~Vietnam had been booked five times in the group stages, picking up 2 yellow cards against Iraq, 2 against Iran and 1 against Yemen. Lebanon had accumulated 6 yellow cards in their three group stage matches, with 2 against Qatar, 3 against Saudi Arabia and 1 against DPR Korea.
Oman and the megaphone man on a roll
Earlier in the day Oman had also booked their ticket for the knockout stages in the most dramatic of manners with a late strike against Turkmenistan. With just over five minutes left on the clock, both Oman and Turkmenistan were heading out of the continental championship, but a frenetic finale to the game had Oman take the lead to go level as one of the best third-placed teams and ensure progression by leaping over Vietnam on goal difference.
The Omani fan band and the man on the megaphone imploring his team to make them happy were once again in ascendance and rapidly becoming one of the stars of the tournament.
Thursday’s final group games also eliminated Palestine from the tournament. Nourredine Ould Ali’s team had harboured hopes of progressing to the knockout stages with two points after draws against both Syria and Jordan, but ultimately they weren’t enough.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1596605141labto1596605141ofdlr1596605141owedi1596605141sni@o1596605141fni1596605141