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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Qatar fight past conditions and Bangladesh

Asian champions notch 2-0 verdict on soggy turf in Dhaka to retain top spot in group.
Bangladesh's Mohammad Ibrahim (left) And Qatar's Musaab Mohamed Vie For Possession
Bangladesh’s Mohammad Ibrahim (left) and Qatar’s Musaab Mohamed vie for possession. Photo: AFC

Qatar overcame almost unplayable underfoot conditions to defeat Bangladesh 2-0 to tighten their hold on the top spot in Group E of the Asian Cup 2023/World Cup 2022 joint qualifiers in Dhaka on Thursday.

At the Bangabandhu National Stadium, Qatar’s superiority in skills was nearly nullified by the state of the turf. Rains in the Bangladesh capital had rendered the turf soggy and for a team not used to such heavy conditions, Qatar really struggled to get their game going.

Results

Group ASyria bt Maldives2-1
China bt Guam7-0
Group BJordan drew with Kuwait0-0
Australia bt Nepal5-0
Group CIran bt Cambodia14-0
Iraq bt Hong Kong2-0
Group DUzbekistan bt Yemen5-0
Saudi Arabia bt Singapore3-0
Group EBangladesh lost to Qatar0-2
Oman bt Afghanistan3-0
Group FJapan bt Mongolia6-0
Kyrgyz Republic bt Myanmar7-0
Group GVietnam bt Malaysia1-0
UAE bt Indonesia5-0
Group HLebanon bt Turkmenistan2-1
South Korea bt Sri Lanka8-0

To the Asian champions’ credit, they fought gamely right till the end and struck once in each half, through Yusuf Abdurisag and Karim Boudiaf, to bag vital three points. Felix Sanchez’s men thus took their tally to seven points from three matches.

Having drawn their previous game against India, Qatar were extra keen to get back to winning ways. They had beaten Afghanistan 6-0 in their opening match and were expected to sail past India, but the goalless at home meant the pressure was on the Maroons to deliver.

Starting the game with Akram Afif on the bench, Qatar struggled to make an immediate impact. It was slow going till the 28th minute when the visitors finally broke through. A cross from Hassan Al Haydos on the right found its way into the middle of the Bangladeshi defence and Almoez Ali turned it towards an unmarked Abdurisag on the far side. The Al Arabi player pounced on the chance to bulge the net for his first goal in national team colours.

Given the conditions, it was a crucial goal and Qatar protected it well, trying to keep possession and shaping sporadic attacks. Fortune too came to their aid at times. Some clutch defending allowed them to ward off Bangladesh close to half-time and in the second half, the hosts pressed hard through counter-attacks, coming close to scoring the equaliser on a couple of occasions.

Biplu Ahmed and Ziban Mahbubur Rahman, placed advantageously, should have put away the opportunities that came their way in the 75th minute while Mohammad Ibrahim too was wayward with his shot two minutes later. Qatar, heaving a sigh of relief, then got the insurance goal during injury time, thanks to two substitutes.

Afif, coming in for Abdurisag in the 68th minute dribbled up on the left and threaded a pass for another substitute Ahmed Alaaeldin inside the penalty area. As Alaaeldin tried to work his way forward, the ball deflected off Bangladesh defender Sohel Rana and rolled to the path of Boudiaf who was bang on target.

The three points were really hard-earned and Qatar now return home to tackle Oman in their fourth match, at the Al Janoub Stadium on October 15. Bangladesh play India on the same day in Kolkata.

In the other match in Group E, Oman blanked Afghanistan 3-0 at Seeb, Oman, to stay in second spot. Oman have six points from two games. Afghanistan are third in the group with three points, followed by India (1) and Bangladesh (0).