CHANGZHOU: Ace midfielder Akram Afif on Friday produced a slick goal
to power Qatar to their second successive win at the AFC U-23 Asian
Afif, the guiding force of Qatar’s historic AFC U-19 Asian Cup in 2014,
managed a right-footed strike from close range after a neat pass from
striker Almoez Ali in the 43rd minute in the Group A match.
Stationed in the centre of the Oman box, Afif picked up a cross from Ali
and then shot the ball past goalkeeper Ibrahim Al Mukhaini in a quick-thinking
move late in the first half.
Qatar – coached by Felix Sanchez – are now at the top of the group with
six points after two matches in the 16-team tournament.
On Tuesday, a spirited Qatar beat Uzbekistan with a similar score at
the Changzhou Sports Centre.
In another Group A match on Friday, Uzbekistan stunned hosts China
1-0 at the same venue to throw open the points race in the group.
Qatar, once the game kicked off, dominated proceedings with early
attacks. In the 6th minute, Afif fired a little wide from the centre of
the Omani box after an assist by Abdullah Al Ahrak.
In the 22nd minute, Oman’s Muhsen Al Ghassani aimed for the left
of the Qatari goal but his shot sailed past the crossbar following a
cross from Jameel Al Yahmadi.
Nine minutes later, Qatar defender Bassam Al Rawi produced a
snap-header from close range – after a cross from Ahmed Moien – but
his deflection was blocked by the Oman goalkeeper.
Two minutes from the first-half whistle, Afif scored for Qatar – after
a cross from Ali – to produce what was eventually the only goal of the
Close to the hour-mark, Oman’s industrious striker Al Ghassani produced
a left-footed drive from outside the Qatari box but his shot sailed past
the right goalpost.
Oman’s Azan Al Tamtami charged into the Qatari box in the 69th
minute but Qatar defenders blocked the move with quick thinking.
In the 82nd minute, Qatar’s Sultan Al Brake has his shot blocked from
close range after a cross by Hashim Ali.
In injury time, Qatar nearly scored their second goal when Meshaal
Al-Shammari went a little wide with his shot from close range after
an assist by Moein.
Qatar line-up: Mohammed Al Bakri, Tarek Salman, Tammem Al Muhaiza,
Bassam Al Rawi, Abdullah Al Ahrak, Ahmed Moein, Sultan Al Berek, Akram
Afif, Hisham Ali, Salem Al Hajr and Al Moez Ali
Substitutes: Asim Madibo, Meshaal Al Shammari and Khalid Munir