Qatar labour to a narrow win against Afghanistan
Akram Afif's late penalty helps Asian Cup champions post a 1-0 win at Dushanbe and stay on top of their group.
A second-half penalty conversion by Akram Afif saved Qatar the blushes as they laboured to a 1-0 win over Afghanistan in a joint Asian Cup 2023/World Cup 2022 qualifying game in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on Tuesday.
Afghanistan, drubbed 6-0 by Qatar in the Doha leg, showed the improvement they have made since then, coming with an organised defensive display. In contrast, Qatar were insipid for most part and could even consider themselves lucky to snatch a win, with the Afghans having missed a first-half penalty.
|Maldives bt Guam||3-1|
|Syria bt Philippines||1-0|
|Nepal lost to Kuwait||0-1|
|Jordan bt Chinese Taipei||3-0|
|Iraq drew with Bahrain||0-0|
|Hong Kong bt Cambodia||2-0|
|Uzbekistan bt Palestine||2-0|
|Yemen lost to Singapore||1-2|
|Afghanistan lost to Qatar||0-1|
|Oman bt India||1-0|
|Myanmar bt Mongolia||1-0|
|Kyrgyz Republic drew with Tajikistan||1-1|
|Vietnam drew with Thailand||0-0|
|Malaysia bt Indonesia||2-0|
|Turkmenistan bt Sri Lanka||2-0|
- Points table: Group E
There was no cohesion in Qatar’s play in cold conditions at the Tajik capital. The passing was poor and shooting wayward in the limited chances they created. Felix Sanchez certainly was a worried man but Afif bailed them out with that 76thminute goal to ensure Qatar stayed on top of Group E, with 13 points from five matches.
Afif himself had created the chance, attempting to weave through before he was wrestled down inside the penalty area by Noor Husin. Referee Timur Faizullin blew for a penalty and Afif coolly converted it, sending Afghan goalkeeper Ovays Azizi the wrong way.
Afghanistan had started the game well and created a couple of chances early on. Noor Husin, set up by their captain Farshad Noor, couldn’t cash in on an error by Tarek Salman. Noor himself then shot over the bar, before Qatar attempted to hit back.
Yusuf Abdurisag set up Almoez Ali inside the penalty area, chesting down a cross from the right but the Duhail striker flashed his shot over the bar. Struggling to break through, Qatar were in for a shock in the 29thminute when a Milad Intezar shot hit Salman’s hand inside the penalty area and the referee awarded a penalty to Afghanistan.
Omran Haydari’s shot from the spot, however, lacked power and placement, and Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb had no trouble saving it, falling to his left.
Afghanistan were left to rue that miss as Qatar came back in the second half, and Afif punished them with that goal. Qatar created a few more chances late in the match but both Afif and Almoez were off target. But by then, the win was almost assured with the Afghans hardly mounting any threat.
Qatar now head home to prepare for the Arabian Gulf Cup, with the next round of qualifiers only in March. A game against India beckon them on March 26 while Afghanistan, who are third in the group with four points from five matches, take on Bangladesh.
In the other Group E game on the day, Oman defeated India 1-0 in Muscat to stay in second place with 12 points. India, who like Afghanistan are out of the reckoning, are fourth with three points, followed by Bangladesh (1).