Palestine and Mongolia spring surprises as Asian World Cup qualifying enters second round

September 6 – Palestine and Mongolia with surprise victories got the second round of Asian World Cup qualifiers. Meanwhile Asian champions and World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar continued their impressive form thrashing Afghanistan 6-0. 

Some of the traditional powerhouses won’t be in action until next week, but the challengers were putting their best feet forward.

In Group D, Palestine upset Uzbekistan and Hector Cuper at the Faisal Al Husseini International Stadium in Al Ram. Oday Dabagh opened the scoring for the Lions of Canaan at the hour-mark before Islam Batran doubled the lead to ensure all three points for the Palestinians in the 85th minute. In the other Group D match, Yemen earned a point in a 2-2 draw away to Singapore.

Palestine’s coach Nourredine Ould Ali had been under pressure after a disappointing Asian Cup campaign in January when he was perceived to play the game too conservatively, but that approach yielded results against the Uzbeks, who dominated in the first half. The Palestinians didn’t break and improved after the interval to get their qualifying campaign off to a flying start. They will play Singapore in their next game.

In Group E,  the 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar hammered Afghanistan at home 6-0. In Doha, Almoez Ali continued his emphatic form from the Asian Cup, scoring a hat-trick. Captain Hassan Al Haydos, Abdelkarim Hassan and Boualem Khoukhi also got on the score sheet to complete a routine win for the Asian champions. In the other group game, India were dealt a blow, losing 1-2 at home to Ronald Koeman’s Oman. The Indians had bright spells and captain Sunil Chettri handed the hosts the lead in the first half, but his strike was cancelled out by a late brace from Rabia Al-Mandhar.

“My players, they can run,” said India coach Igor Stimac. “But this loss is about experience, not fitness. From the 70th minute mark, we made the mistake of running too much without passing. We should’ve made the opponent run and chase, we didn’t. We didn’t have enough experience in scoring. We always depend on Sunil for goals. But I can’t blame anyone. The players gave their all.”

In Group F, Mongolia continued their excellent form with a surprise 1-0 win over Myanmar. It is the first time that Mongolia are playing in the second round of World Cup qualifying and in Ulaanbaatar Dölgöön Amaraa’s first-half strike was enough for a historic win over the Asian Lions. In the other group game, Tajikistan edged Kyrgyz Republic 1-0 in a Central Asian derby.

In Group G, Vietnam held Thailand to a scoreless draw. The hosts, led by new Japanese boss Akira Nishino, had a dominant head-to-head record going into the fixture, having won 15 and drawn four of their 22 past meetings with Vietnam in all competitions. On the road to Russia, the Thai had prevailed both home and away, but on Thursday they failed to break the deadlock against the Asian Cup quarter-finalists. Meanwhile, Malaysia snatched a dramatic 2-3 win in Indonesia with a sixth-minute injury-time goal from Mohamadou Sumareh.

In Group H, North Korea defeated Lebanon 2-0 at home. Turkemenistan bagged three points winning with the same scoreline in Sri Lanka.

Elsewhere, Bahrain held Iraq 1-1 in Group C, a disappointing start to World Cup qualifying for Srecko Katanec’s side. The Slovenian has been tasked by the Iraqi FA to qualify the team for Qatar. Iraq last participated in the tournament in 1986 when they finished bottom of a group with Belgium, Paraguay and the hosts Mexico. In Group A, there were wins for the Maldives and Syria against Guam and the Philippines respectively.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1582267967labto1582267967ofdlr1582267967owedi1582267967sni@o1582267967fni1582267967


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